By Brenda Waters

HARRISBURG (KDKA) – “I am proposing a historic $200 million investment in scholarships for young Pennsylvanians attending our state system universities.”

When Governor Wolf delivered his sixth budget address to the joint session of the general assembly, that announcement drew applause. A new $204 million tuition scholarship fund for students attending any of the state’s 14 owned universities. It’s called the Nellie Bly Scholarship.

Good news for students. The millions would come from the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Trust Fund.

“And we’ll do that by re-purposing existing tax dollars that are right now flowing into the Horse Racing development Fund. Let’s bet on our kids instead of bankrolling race horse owners,” Gov. Wolf said.

The money would cover tuition, books and living expenses. There is a stipulation: the Nellie Bly Scholarship is for full-time students attending any of the 14 state-owned universities and they have to agree to remain in Pennsylvania for as many years as they receive the scholarship money.

But the Pennsylvania Equine Coalition that represents owners, trainers, drivers and breeders says the proposed scholarship would mean the end to horse racing in Pennsylvania and end of their livelihood.

Pat Chapman, the owner of the 2004 Kentucky Derby Winner “Smarty Jones” said, “I can’t believe that our governor would turn his back on the horse breeding and racing industry. This would be absolutely devastating to so many of us in the horse business.”

The Wolf administration defends the proposal, saying it would help students avoid crushing debt.