Excuse me?! I don’t know if you all remember the slots referendum that Maryland voters approved in 2008, but — just like this year’s gambling referendum — it promised that it was all for the “primary purpose” of funding education. Well, apparently the mayor’s not on board. Instead, she’s using the $11 million that Harrah’s will pay the city in its first year of operation to fund a “small property tax cut.” This was approved back in April by the City Council, but it contradicts what voters approved in 2008.
It’s true that Baltimore’s property taxes dwarf those in surrounding areas, but our public schools have a lot of catching up to do. And whatever your opinion on the economic effect of lowering taxes, it’s not the purpose for which these slots parlors were intended. Anyway, don’t we have a revenue problem?
Well here we are again. The mayor is urging us to vote yes on Question 7, turning our slots parlors into full-blown casinos — a necessary move because “our neighboring states have adopted changes making Maryland’s casinos uncompetitive.” In four years’ time will we be voting whether to add dog fighting, you know, to stay competitive?
Of course, once again we are told that the revenue will be used to fund education. And yes, money will be added to the state Education Trust Fund, but eventually money that originally went toward education can be allocated elsewhere. And yes, casinos bring jobs. But they also bring “increased substance abuse, mental illness and suicide, violent crime, auto theft and larceny, and bankruptcy.”
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