Maryland Education Association Calls For State’s Casino Revenue To Help Underfunded Public Schools

Grace Carr | Reporter

A number of advocacy groups and education advocates rallied in Towson, Maryland, on Thursday in support of a constitutional amendment that would ensure the state’s casino funds support the state’s public schools.

The advocates called for Maryland residents to vote for an amendment that would guarantee casino funds going to Maryland’s Education Trust Fund would increase funding for the state’s public schools rather than simply replace or fall short of what they were previously receiving, The Baltimore Sun reported Thursday.

“The Maryland Education Trust Fund isn’t being used as supplemental revenue to boost education spending. Rather, it’s supplanting holes in the general budget,” said former Democratic Delegate Heather Mizeur, The Sun reported in January 2017.

The Maryland Education Coalition, Baltimore Teachers Union and Anne Arundel County Board of Education were present at the rally.

“It is morally wrong to do anything different,” said Alvin Thornton, who designed the state’s current education funding model. “It makes no economic sense to do anything different.”

The proposed amendment would bar gambling revenues from being used on anything other than K-12 public education.

Maryland has opened a number of casinos since former Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley okayed casino gambling in 2008, and the Education Trust Fund has received roughly $1.7 billion from casino revenues. Many of the state’s public schools haven’t seen an increase in funds however, because the law does not require the gambling growth to match school aid.

Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore has culled $200 million for the Education Trust Fund since 2014, but Baltimore public schools receive less money now than they did before the casino’s opening. (RELATED: All Maryland Casino Money Could Go To Education, If New Measure Enacted)

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is in favor of the proposed amendment and released an ad Aug. 27 vocalizing his support.

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The state’s casinos contributed $350 million to the education fund in 2015 and roughly $500 million in 2016, according to The Sun. Despite those numbers, Maryland schools are underfunded by $2.9 billion annually, according to the state’s Education Department.

“That’s just not acceptable in the state of Maryland,” Strong Schools Maryland partnership director Joe Francaviglia said.

Over 40 percent of Maryland teachers work second jobs to make ends meet, according to an Aug. 22 Maryland State Education Association poll.

About 80 percent of Marylanders support the proposed amendment, The Sun reported.

The amendment will appear on the general election ballot on Nov. 6.

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