During the recent Special Session, legislators representing Jefferson County succeeded in preserving $9 million a year in racetrack purse funds that had been marked by Governor Joe Manchin to help offset the unfunded liability in the Workers’ Compensation Fund. Delegates John Doyle (D-Jefferson), Robert Tabb (D-Jefferson) and Locke Wysong (D-Jefferson), and Senators John Unger (D-Berkeley) and John Yoder (R-Jefferson) worked together and fought to protect these essential funds.
“Our hard work paid off for the horsemen in the Eastern Panhandle,” said Delegate Wysong. “Although we understood the significance of resolving the Workers’ Compensation crisis, we also made it a top priority to fight for each one of them.”
Initially, Governor Manchin had proposed drawing $20 million annually from the fund to help finance and privatize the Workers’ Compensation System. Jefferson County representatives were hopeful to restore the entire amount to the purse fund -- and they plan to continue working toward this goal in the coming months.
“We got the best deal we could,” said Delegate Doyle. “And with the Regular Session now in close view, we look forward to working to reclaim the remaining funding.”
The Charles Town, Mountaineer, Tri-State and Wheeling Downs racetracks place approximately 14 percent of incoming money from video lottery machines into the purse fund. These monies play a significant role in West Virginia’s tourism and economic development initiatives by providing prize money to horse and dog owners in these four racetracks.
“I was pleased that through negotiations with the Governor, we were able to communicate and convey that purse funds are a vital part of the Eastern Panhandle’s economy,” said Delegate Tabb.
Commenting on the importance of their collaboration, Senator Yoder said, “Everyone had to make some sacrifices and compromise on this legislation, but I believe the Jefferson County delegation successfully worked as a team to protect the economy of the Eastern Panhandle.”
“It is imperative that we continue to fight to protect and assist our horsemen and farmers - they are very important to the economic and social well-being of our community,” added Senator Unger.