Since 2009, we have been promised that gambling dollars would increase funding for our schools. In fact, for each public school student, State funding has lost about $850 in purchasing power – or $700 million per year. Schools have to pay for food, fuel, and many other expenses, just like families.
When Maryland adopted its current school aid law, inflation adjustments were automatic. Removing the inflation factor has meant layoffs of teachers and other staff, program reductions, curriculum gaps, and reduced intervention for students who need extra help. In addition, many of our school buildings are in deplorable condition. Some have lead in their water pipes. Some have mold that endangers student health. Layouts may present security concerns. Far too many are dingy and uncomfortable because of foggy windows, poor lighting, lack of air conditioning, and obsolete heating systems. And even without egregious health, safety, and comfort issues, far too many of our schools lack key learning components like science labs, libraries, and art studios.
Some of our State leaders have told us that more revenues from gaming will mean increased support for public schools. But we know that every dollar from gaming so far has merely replaced taxpayer funds and has not increased school funding to keep up with costs.
Let’s not gamble with our kids. Maryland must keep the promise to our children and use gaming revenues first and foremost to protect and enhance aid to public schools.