Monday, October 27, 2008

Slots and Education

I've never been so excited about an election before, to vote for a candidate who I truly believe in, to set the United States on a new path.

Yet, despite literally years of research on my candidate, and hours of discussion and writing about it, I still have some work to do before Election Day.

Ironically, I don't at all know how I'm voting on slots.

I'm generally for less government interference (which, ironically, is why I'm not a Republican), but have seen what having casinos in Detroit has done - increased crime, increased homelessness. I'm just not too big on bringing in (not much) state revenue on the backs of old people and poor people.

Additionally, while I know the funding is supposed to go to education, I'm worried it'll be used as an "instead of" funding rather than a "in addition to" funding.

On the other hand, we certainly need more education funding (the big dirty word at school is the $50 million budget shortfall for the BCPSS next year, with rumored teacher layoffs and horrible material shortages), and there is a difference between slots and full-blown casinos.

I'd like to see a debate on this education issue. I'm certainly open-minded about casting my vote for either side at this point.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Gambling. Maryland. Not a pretty picture.

Aaron Meisner said...

First, the language of the proposed law does not guarantee a single net new dollar for schools. The so-called Education Trust Fund must be spent on education, but the current General Fund allocation could be reduced dollar-for-dollar. Schools will very likely see no increase in funding at all.

But it gets worse. Much worse. With the tight credit markets it is unlikely that the casino operators will be able to borrow the funds needed to build these facilities. Lenders will look at the relatively high 67% tax rate and not see any way for these slots operators to stay solvent in this or any economy.

So the operators go back to the General Assembly with news: there will be no slots unless the tax on operators is reduced. Who gets cut so that that operators can get their money? The schools are the logical target.

Fast forward a few years. Schools still need more money, slots revenues to the schools have been reduced and never came anywhere near the targets. The teachers go to Annapolis for more and are told "We passed slots for you. And now you want even more?"

This is a lousy deal for Marylanders, and an even worse deal for schools. The MSTA should be ashamed.

If we believe in Thornton, we should fund it honestly.

Zeek and I said...

I am suspicious. Remember in MI when the proposed lottery money was to go to schools. When it passed the money did go to schools, but the other funds that previously went to the schools no longer did.

baltimorediary said...

It happened in Michigan and New York with the lottery, and there's no reason it won't happen in Maryland as well.

A while back, I got a chance to talk to Senator Verna Jones about this topic and expressed this fear. I'm not so sure my message really sank in.

I'm a definite NO on this issue.

Eric said...

It took me a while to make up my mind, but ultimately I just don't believe that slots will lead to any more money going to education. $ is fungible, you can't track which dollar goes where. If our politicians don't believe that education is important enough to fund without slots, then they aren't really going to put any more money into education with slots. One could argue that at least with slots there is a bit more money coming into the state coffers, but with slots there will also be a need for more spending ... on homeless shelters, services for the children of compulsive gamblers, etc. I just don;t but it, and I'm voting no.

Eric

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