Voters now have chance to end the budget gimmicks for good
This evening, the Maryland House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed the Fix the Fund Act by a vote of 130-3, sending the constitutional amendment to general election voters in the fall. The amendment—which passed the Senate 47-0 on March 19—would guarantee that any revenue raised into the Education Trust Fund through casino gaming must be directly sent to schools above and beyond funding through the state’s General Fund. That currently amounts to about $500 million a year, a big first step to addressing the $2.9 billion annual funding shortage facing Maryland schools according to a state-commissioned study.
Since the Education Trust Fund was created in 2009, Gov. O’Malley and Gov. Hogan have combined to redirect $1.9 billion away from public schools to plug other holes in their budgets. If voters approve the Fix the Fund constitutional amendment in November, this budget gimmick will be gone for good.
Betty Weller, president of the Maryland State Education Association, released the following statement:
“We applaud the General Assembly for taking the first step in making a new Maryland Promise to every family, in every community, that the state will fund a strong public school for their children.
“Education funding should not be a partisan issue and educators are heartened by the overwhelming vote in the General Assembly to make good on broken promises and set a different path for education funding in the years ahead.
“The decade following the Great Recession has seen Maryland public schools slip in national rankings, lose talented educators to other states and professions, cram students into classes of 40 or more, and make other sacrifices to educational quality. Educators will not accept this shortchanging of education any longer.
“We now turn our focus to ensuring bold recommendation from the Kirwan Commission, a YES vote on the Fix the Fund ballot question in November, and the passage of a new school funding formula in the 2019 General Assembly session that comprehensively addresses our annual funding shortage.”