Chances are most voters heading to the polls will be unfamiliar with an important referendum question being posed to them.
Even if they are educated about Question 1, they will likely be confused over the wording, “Requiring Commercial Gaming Revenues that are for Public Education to Supplement Spending for Education in Public Schools.”
With early voting now underway through Nov. 1, we wanted to expand on the referendum and provide some insight to the statewide issue.
Contrary to claims and assurances from lawmakers and gambling advocates that a majority of gaming revenue would be directed to public schools through the state, it’s not happening. This referendum essentially creates a “lockbox,” assuring the required dollars will not be funneled to needed transportation projects or making up for shortcomings in budgets. It’s crazy to think a referendum is needed to make lawmakers do what they promised, but that’s the reality of the situation in Maryland. It’s critically important now as sports betting and millions I new revenue comes to the state.
The question on the ballot reads, “The amendment requires the Governor to include in the annual State Budget, as supplemental funding for prekindergarten through grade 12 in public schools, the revenues from video lottery operation licenses and any other commercial gaming dedicated to public education in an amount above the level of State funding for education in public schools provided by the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act of 2002 (otherwise known as the Thornton legislation) in not less than the following amounts: $125 million in fiscal year 2020; $250 million in fiscal year 2021; $375 million in fiscal year 2022; and 100% of commercial gaming revenues dedicated to public education in fiscal year 2023 and each fiscal year thereafter. The amendment also requires the Governor to show in the annual budget how the revenues from video lottery operation licenses and other commercial gaming are being used in a manner that is in addition to the level of State funding for public education provided by the funding formulas established by the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act …”
We support a “For” vote for the amendment. Worcester County is deemed the second richest county in Maryland (behind Talbot) based on an antiquated and unfair funding formula, predicated on property values. Due to this absurd formula, Worcester receives the second smallest amount of funding for education from the state, resulting in a major burden for the county.
We are hopeful this “lockbox” amendment will ultimately help local schools by improving fairness on the state funding level.