Annapolis – Delegate Mary Washington, District 43, introduced legislation, the “Restoring the Trust in Our Education Trust Fund” Act (HB 557) yesterday. The bill would require expenditures generated by Maryland’s casinos will actually be in addition to, and may not supplant, General Fund monies provided for state aid for education.
“When Maryland voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing casino-style slot machines in the 2008 general election (and then the expansion to table games in 2012), they did so in good faith,” Delegate Mary Washington said, “believing the money generated by gambling would flow into our public schools, particularly in our poorest districts.”
“It’s time for the state to live up to its promises and make sure gambling revenues are used for the purpose Marylanders voted for — to provide additional revenue for our schools. Our students have waited long enough.”
Rather than other casino “lock box” school funding legislation proposed that calls for waiting on a referendum, Delegate Washington’s bill will provide additional funding this year — without waiting for the voters to hold still another referendum on how gambling money should be used. That revenue will help the state make an immediate down payment on meeting the $2.9 billion funding gap facing the state’s public schools, even as we wait for the Kirwan Commission to announce its recommended changes to the state’s funding formula later this year.
Casinos have poured more than $1.7 billion into Maryland’s Education Trust Fund. Yet since casinos opened in 2011, the percentage of the state’s general fund revenues that go to our public schools has dropped. In Baltimore, state funding for schools has diminished in recent years despite the $200 million generated by the Horseshoe Casino.
“The gambling revenues are coming in, but our schools are falling further and further behind,” Delegate Washington notes.
Delegate Washington’s bill would make sure the casino money always goes where it belongs– to enhance current formula funding for our students and their schools.
The Baltimore Movement Of Rank-and-File Educators (BMORE) have collaborated with Delegate Washington in the drafting of her bill. “As public school teachers, we see the massive challenges our students face first-hand every day. They don’t have time for legislators to craft a multi-year, phase-in solution to an obvious and fixable problem. Justice delayed is no justice at all. Delegate Washington’s bill offers an equitable solution now,” says BMORE Steering Committee member Diamonté Brown.