Yesterday, Maryland lawmakers unveiled their intentions for changes to be brought to the state constitution in a way that would guarantee that taxes that casinos pay to fund school are to be used to further boost education funding.
For years, local legislator have been put under fire for claiming that the expansion of the state’s gambling market would enhance annual education funding with hundreds of millions of dollars. Yesterday, many local lawmakers expressed their support for a so-called “education lockbox” that would result of millions of dollars set aside for education on an annual basis.
As a result, a bill is to be rolled by the end of the week by local legislative leaders who aim to put the issue on vote through a referendum. The measure planned by Meryland lawmakers on the ballot for local voters to decide at November election. The state’s residents are to decide how the money raised for education from taxes imposed on gambling revenue would be spent.
According to proponents of the “education lockbox”, approximately $500 million are to be added to school funding every year over a period of four years. The funding is considered to be spent to reduce the negative impact of revenue losses in other areas of Maryland’s spending plan.
The move comes at a time when state lawmakers are preparing for the upcoming years, when a state commission would probably make a recommendation for the education funding formulas in Maryland to be enhanced. More than decade and a half ago, in 2002, the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act was adopted by the state’s General Assembly with the latter trying to significantly increase the states’ spending on public education on an annual basis.
Maryland Education Funding Formulas Could Be Changed
Earlier in January, a report putting a grade of B-minus to the state and ranking it sixth in the country for overall quality of education was released. A few years earlier, in 2013, the state of Maryland managed to rank first.
Delegate Karen Lewis Young explained that the state had a good reputation as far as education is concerned, but it had been forced to work with limited resources for a long time. According to Ms. Lewis Young, the fact that Maryland dropped from first to sixth position only in half a decade should be considered as a warning, so adequate measures should be taken.
According to her and other Maryland legislators, gambling revenue needs to be redirected for education funding, especially considering the work of the Kirwan Commission (Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education). The latter is expected to provide its recommendations for a thorough overhaul of the education system of Maryland and possible changes to be brought in the state’s education funding formulas.
Some local lawmaker remain positive for the changes that could be implemented thanks to an increased funding of the education system. The House Speaker Michael Busch explained that the process was expected to take several years to set up the funding scheme.