In the seven years since the first of Maryland’s six casinos opened, they have pumped $1.7 billion into the state’s Education Trust Fund — the financial windfall that advocates for gambling promised would go to the state’s public schools.
But over that time, casino funds have not gone to bolster school budgets more than what the state already was required to spend — and some jurisdictions, including Baltimore, have suffered funding cuts.
That’s because the state officials who approved casino gambling in 2008 — Gov. Martin O’Malley and his Democratic allies in the General Assembly — didn’t require that school aid keep pace with the growth in gambling.
State budget analysts say the money from the casino-fueled Education Trust Fund is, in fact, going to schools, helping to pay for rising costs. But that stream has allowed the governor and lawmakers to take money that once went to schools and redirect it to pay salaries, fund roadwork and support other government programs and services.