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Ohio horsemen lend support

June 27, 2006

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The three major horsemen’s groups involved in racing in Ohio have all endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment to allow slots at the state’s seven tracks and two locations in downtown Cleveland. The boards of directors of the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association (OHHA), the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) and the Ohio Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners (OTBO) have all voted to support the amendment.

Petitions are currently being circulated to get the so-called “Learn and Earn” amendment on the ballot for a referendum vote this fall. The centerpiece of the proposal is the establishment of a tuition grant program for Ohio students to attend public or private colleges in the state. That program would pump nearly $1 billion per year into college scholarships. An additional $200 million per year would be earmarked to local governments for attracting new business and jobs.

“Ohio ranks 49th in the Union for college affordability,” said Jerry Knappenberger, general manager of OHHA. “We need to make higher education more affordable for working families. The ‘Learn and Earn’ proposal will allow many of our young people to be able to attend college and others to graduate from college without a huge debt.”

Dan Theno, executive director of HBPA said that horsemen’s groups were strongly behind the “Learn and Earn” constitutional amendment because of the positive impact it would have on the state’s economy. “The racing industry directly and indirectly employs 16,000 Ohioans and has an economic impact of over $700 million annually,” said Theno. “If you add to that the $200 million that will be going to local governments for economic development each year, the impact of ‘Learn and Earn’ will be substantial.”

In order to get on the ballot for a fall referendum, proponents of the “Learn and Earn” constitutional amendment will need to collect over 300,000 valid signatures from Ohio voters. Petitions are currently being circulated with the goal of reaching the required number of signatures by the end of July.
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