Red Maryland has obtained a mailer from the anti-gambling expansion group Get the Facts Vote No on 7, which rebuts the claims of the pro gambling expansion group Maryland Workers for National Harbor’s claims regarding education funding.
The mailer asks readers “How do we know there is a loophole that works against education funding?”
They answer by astutely showing how the Annapolis spending shell game works.
Implicit in the pro-gambling expansion ad blitz is that the added gambling revenue will mean extra money for education. That isn’t the case
Gambling revenue is put into the Education Trust Fund. However, like most special funds, the governor and the legislature raid the ETF to cover general fund deficits and for spending on other programs. Case in point Governor O’Malley’s $861 million raid on the Transportation Trust Fund to balance the budget. No wonder he’s been asking for a gas tax increase.
In fact, as you can see from the revenue and expenditure table in the bill’s fiscal note, gambling revenue in the ETF supplants rather than augments general fund expenditures, so it can be spent on other stuff.
While Get the Facts Vote No on 7 is right to point out this loophole, both sides are exploiting the commonly held fallacy that more money spent on education means better educated kids. As G.K. Chesterton said, “fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”
While Education Week’s curious metrics ranks Maryland schools tops in the nation, it still ranks dead last, according to the same Education Week report, in the poverty gap for 8th-grade math, and a middling 22 for high school graduation rate. Also, nearly 60 percent of Maryland high-school graduates attending state community colleges need remedial math, and 15 percent attending state four-year colleges need remedial math instruction.
In 2002, Maryland enacted the Bridge to Excellence or Thornton law, mandating massive increases in state education funding. The ostensible goal was to erase the achievement gaps between wealthy white students and their poor minority peers.
Ten years and billions of dollars later, the gaps have proved persistent, and in some cases, widened.
So feel free to double down on gambling, but don’t fool yourself into thinking splitting that pair of tens is going to do anything for Maryland students.