Why do we need to vote on this? Wasn’t this already happening?
When Marylanders approved casino gaming, we thought the new revenue would increase education funding. While casino revenues went into the Education Trust Fund—which can only be used for funding public education—nearly the same amount of existing funding was shifted from education to other parts of the state budget. The result? The new revenue from casinos didn’t add to education funding; it simply maintained the existing, minimum levels. Passing Question 1 will stop this budget gimmick and ensure that casino revenues actually go to increasing school funding over current levels.
What is the Education Trust Fund? Is that where all public school funding comes from?
The Education Trust Fund is composed of money from taxes on casino operators’ earnings. It can only be spent on public education. Funding from the Education Trust Fund flows to the public education section of the state budget and represents a sizeable part of the state’s overall investment in public schools. The other, larger, part of public school funding comes from the General Fund, which is composed of revenue from things like sales and income taxes.
How much money are we talking about?
Once fully phased in, Question 1 would add more than $500 million annually for public schools. The phase-in will take four years and is designed to coincide with the phase-in of the state’s new school funding formula, which will be debated and passed during the 2019 legislative session. That formula will be based on the recommendations of the state’s Kirwan Commission.
Does voting yes further expand casino gaming in Maryland?
No. This ballot measure does not affect any aspect of gaming in Maryland, only how revenues from gaming are used.
So how much more money would this mean for a particular school system?
A full breakdown of how much this could mean for every school system in the state is on voteyesonone.org. Note that these projections are based on the state’s current funding formula, which will change in the coming years. So while these numbers may shift when based on a new formula, we know this will lead to significantly more money in every school district.
Who is to blame for shifting this money away from public schools?
Casino revenues have not led to major increases in school funding as many Marylanders expected because politicians have played shell games with the money. Since 2012, almost $2 billion in casino revenues has flowed into the Education Trust Fund to help fund our schools, but nearly the same amount of money that had been funding schools was redirected to non-education areas of the state budget. As a result, we’ve seen largely flat funding for our schools year after year because of this budget gimmick. Under Gov. O’Malley, $500 million of the $600 million that flowed into the Education Trust Fund was redirected elsewhere in the budget. Under Gov. Hogan, $1.4 billion of the $1.8 billion that flowed into the Education Trust Fund was redirected elsewhere. Passing Question 1 will make sure that casino revenues go to increasing school funding, as voters have wanted all along.
How can you guarantee that it won’t be possible to play a shell game with this money again?
Question 1 amends the State Constitution to specifically require that money from casino revenues and the Education Trust Fund must go to increasing the pre-existing level of public school funding. This will end the budget gimmick that we’ve seen governors use and make sure that this shell game ends.