In Maryland, a pair of leading General Assembly Democrats are hoping to see revenues from casino gaming in the state put aside and used to help public schools. Delegate Maggie McIntosh and Senator Joan Carter have plans to introduce an amendment to the state constitution that will place the casino gambling revenues of the state in a ‘lockbox’ to be used by public schools when needed.
As chair of the House Appropriations Committee, McIntosh stated in a report by The Baltimore Sun that the amendment would make sure that the taxes from gambling will be used to enhance the K-12 education fund formula and not used to finance the program. The only spending priority of the state constitution is education.
In the interview, McIntosh stated that the amendment would help to keep a promise made by lawmakers to voters when casino gaming was approved back in 2008 and expanded four years later that the revenue share of the state would be used to improve education. When legislation was passed, nothing was put in place that would require the school spending amount to increase as the gambling revenues grow.
The six casinos in the state have provided revenues for some time which have been set aside for education needs. However, over the past few years, the aid has fallen flat despite the casinos’ ability to prosper. Money flowed into the Education Trust Fund, but then flowed out as it was used in the general fund.
According to McIntosh, when schools in Baltimore began to face cuts in state aid in 2016 due to declining enrollment, residents of the city were complaining and asking where the gaming money has gone, as reported by The Baltimore Sun. With the legislation the Delegate plans to introduce, an amendment would be up for vote on the 2018 ballot to let the citizens of the state decide on the educational fund.
Within the budget year that ended on June 30th, casinos in Maryland had been able to generate $1.4 billion in revenues for the budget year. Casinos were able to maintain $814 million and the rest was paid in taxes. The Maryland Education Trust Fund was provided $451 million, according to The Baltimore Sun. With McIntosh’s proposal, the amendment would create a phase-in time frame, so the state would be able to make budget adjustments accordingly.
After the MGM National Harbor opened one year ago, the state has continued to see top earning potential, with the MGM casino earning over $50 million in monthly revenues seven times within the year time frame. With gaming doing so well, it seems that the fund should only have more money added, which could benefit schools of the state if funds remained in one place and not used by the General Fund.