Governor Larry Hogan on Wednesday announced legislation to create a “lockbox” for education funding to ensure that all revenues from Maryland casinos go directly to funding K-12 education and improvements to the state’s public school facilities.
The governor was joined by Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, a longtime advocate for reforming the funding system.
“Ensuring that this money is required to be used the way voters were promised it would be is long overdue; this is a bipartisan issue that a majority of Marylanders agree with,” said Governor Hogan. “The additional revenue that was promised for the classrooms should be required to go into the classrooms, and the people of Maryland and our children should not have to wait for another election in order to fix this important issue.”
Maryland voters approved slot machine gambling in 2008 based on a pledge from the legislature and previous administration that the new revenues generated would supplement existing funding. However, the legislation that was enacted allowed for the new revenues to simply supplant existing funding.
The governor’s Commitment to Education Act of 2018 will increase education spending by more than $4.4 billion over the next decade by phasing in casino revenues from the Education Trust Fund over the next four years. The legislation also dedicates the first 20 percent of these revenues to school construction starting immediately, which will add an additional $1 billion over the decade.
Comptroller Franchot, who has been warning Marylanders of the problems with the existing legislation for over a decade, affirmed his support for the governor’s bill.
“Students, teachers and families have waited long enough for state government to finally deliver on its promise. This session, I hope that both sides of the aisle can set partisanship aside, and come together to do the right thing, by passing this bill and sending it to the governor’s desk,” said the comptroller.
Governor Hogan’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget provides $6.5 billion for K-12 education, which is record funding for a fourth straight year and includes an additional $140 million in direct aid to ensure funding increased for all jurisdictions and $15.2 million over and above legislative funding formulas. The governor and the comptroller are also providing an additional $365 million for school construction in the next fiscal year through the Board of Public Works, which they sit on along with Treasurer Nancy Kopp. This constitutes the largest investment in school construction funding in a decade.
“Voters want to know that these dollars that were promised for schools actually go to schools – that is exactly what our education lockbox legislation will accomplish. Our Commitment to Education Act of 2018 will finally fulfill the promise made to voters back in 2007,” said Governor Hogan. “Our administration didn’t make that promise, but it’s imperative that we all come together to keep that promise.”