Maryland Senate voted unanimously for a constitutional amendment that would increase the funding of schools from taxes on casino revenue. The Bill known as Fix the Fund was approved Monday evening shortly after thousands of teachers rallied in support of it outside the State House in Annapolis.
The vote on Monday calls for a constitutional amendment to be added on the November ballot. It aims to enhance education funding through taxes on casino revenue. Proponents of the Fix the Fund Bill believe the money originally set aside for school funding are being redirected to other areas of the state budget. According to the Maryland State Education Association, $1,7 billion has gone into the Education Trust Fund from casino revenues since 2012, but these funds have not been used to help schools and students.
In support of the proposed constitutional amendment, hundreds of teachers, parents and school employees gathered outside the State House in Annapolis on Monday. They protested against the low funding eduction receives and demanded changes to the funding formulas to be made. The amendment will now move to the House of Delegates and if it is passed there, it will go before Maryland voters in November. The Bill does not require the governor’s signature, which considerably simplifies the procedure.
The Maryland State Education Association says that the current education gap is $2,9 billion and that if approved, Fix the Fund Bill will increase school funding by $500 million. While this would not be enough to fill the gap, supporters of the proposal say that it is certainly a promising first step in the right direction.
How Much Do Maryland Casinos Really Contribute?
The State of Maryland collects taxes from its land-based casinos and a portion of this taxed amount of money goes to education. Slot machines are taxed at a rate of 67 per cent of the gross gaming revenues and nearly half of the money (48.5%) is used for the Education Trust Fund. Table games, on the other hand, are taxed at 20 per cent of all gross gaming revenues and all funds that are being collected from these games go the schools.
Apart from the casino tax revenue, Maryland schools should also receive funding from the State Lottery. Revenues from the Lottery are deposited into the state’s General Fund which supports several sectors and programs, including public health, education, public safety, and more.
Official statistics show that in 2016, gambling contributed almost $330 million to the Education Trust Fund and figures for 2017 are expected to exceed $500 million. However, there has been a cut in the money allocated to education from Maryland’s General Fund. In 2017, 18 per cent of the funds in there went to education, compared to 21 per cent in 2009.