Proponents of a gambling referendum in Maryland argue it will boost state funding for education. You have better odds of winning the lottery.
WASHINGTON -- Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education are, of course, fundamental. Across the nation, high school science teachers have been rededicating themselves to promote STEM education.
Funding remains a constant problem, and the solutions being offered by some states are wrong-headed.
Case in point is Maryland, where a hotly contested referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot would expand gambling statewide. Proponents have spent millions of dollars on TV ads arguing that gambling revenue will provide much needed funding for the stateís education system.
Opponents note that the other form of legal gambling, state lotteries, has done little or nothing to boost education in the Old Line State.
With Marylandís horse racing industry in decline, and gambling thriving in neighboring West Virginia, itís just as likely that proponents are more interested in keeping the good money being thrown after bad within Marylandís boundaries.
Either way, the proverbial stakes on the outcome of Question 7 in Maryland are high. The Baltimore Sun estimates that supporters of the measure, mostly casino interests, have spent more than $43.5 million while opponents have spent more than $41 million on ceaseless advertising. Only $17 million was spent in Marylandís 2010 campaign for governor.
Imagine the boost to Marylandís education system had even a fraction of the funds wasted on political advertising for a gambling referendum instead been invested in chemistry labs or to retain the stateís best science teachers?
But George, to those "spending" that seed money, it's seen as an investment. Meaning, if they spend those millions today, within 5 years or so, they are expecting far more money to be coming in. And to the State, that means a steady flow of new revenues.
If those same investors became philanthropers, donating to schools and universities, that would be great. But would the State coffers get a steady stream of new revenues of equal size?
Like it or not, there are a lot of people out there who are compulsive gamblers. It's the craziest thing I've ever seen. I went to a conference a few years ago, in a casino hotel in Biloxi MS. In order to get to the conference rooms, we had to go through 3 smoke-filled floors of gamblers. It was busy at all times of day, as far as I could tell. Booz, cigarttes, and gambling. They seem to all go together.
If Maryland wants to replace its horse-racing deficits with other forms of gambling, I guess it shouldn't be surprising. (They won't get a dime from me, though!)