Protesters call on lawmakers to bet on education not horse racing in Yonkers
Protesters gathered outside the Yonkers Raceway Tuesday to voice their disapproval with lawmakers spending time racing horses when funding for education is needed.
A number of senators and assembly members competed at the raceway. The Annual Legislative Pace gives legislators the reins to compete for bragging rights in what has become an ultra-competitive, must-see harness race.
Three senators won and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow won for the seventh time.
"I've won six times," says Pretlow. "I'm the reigning champ."
Protesters say the lawmakers should fund education not horse racing.
"We think it's very devastating that our tax dollars are propping this up instead of helping New Yorkers in need," says Edita Birnkarant, executive director of NYCLASS.
Sen. Shelly Mayer, who is the chair of the Education Committee, also won her race.
"We are finally giving schools what they were owed for 2007," says Mayer. "There's money from racing that goes directly into education. It's a huge source for the state's funding for education. We are putting our money where it belongs for education."
Ashley Byrne, the director of outreach communication for PETA, says she is protesting the enormous subsidies that the state is paying from gambling proceeds to the wealthy private horse racing industry.
"That money should be going towards education," says Byrne.
Pretlow says the money is used for education. Mayer agreed saying, "The state is pouring millions of billions in dollars to our schools. We never had the kind of funding we have now."
Pretlow explained that out of every dollar that goes into a VLT machine in the Empire Casino at Yonkers Raceway, four cents is used for education and two cents is put toward the racing industry.