casinos | WYPR

casinos

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Analysts are warning that the COVID-19 epidemic will be disastrous for the state’s budget and for all the services state and local governments provide.

The budget Maryland lawmakers passed last month estimates that about 85% of state revenues will come from sales and income taxes, Warren Deschenaux, the former longtime chief fiscal analyst for the state, said Monday during a Zoom call hosted by the Maryland Center on Economic Policy.

Mary Rose Madden / wypr

Back in 2008 and again in 2012 Maryland lawmakers and gambling advocates sold voters on slots and casinos by telling them all that revenue would boost the state's education budget. But that money only replaced existing funds rather than adding to them.

So, come Election Day in Maryland this year, voters will get to decide on an amendment to the state Constitution that would require that gambling revenues slated for schools be used to supplement existing money rather than replace it.

Rachel Baye

When Marylanders voted to legalize casinos 10 years ago, it was with the promise that the state’s share of the revenues would bolster school funding. Instead, that money replaced some state money going to schools, freeing up those general fund dollars for other purposes.

Gov. Larry Hogan wants to put those state gambling tax revenues into a “lockbox” to ensure that the money goes to schools and doesn’t supplant other state dollars, he announced at a press conference Wednesday.