The politicians who were called to Annapolis by Gov. Martin O'Malley for a special session to jam through legislation necessary to allow a new casino to be built in Prince George's County were hoping you would not catch on to the scam.
The name of the scam is Question 7.
"Vote for a new casino." "More jobs." "More money for education," they have been telling us.
But what haven't they been telling us about this deal? It is a special deal carved out for a Las Vegas casino that will take a lot of money out of Maryland.
MGM Resorts International came late to the game. They didn't bid on any of the five original licenses. Then they came to town and dictated they wanted in on the money, but only if they got a much lower tax rate than previously agreed to. In this legislation, all existing facilities and a potential National Harbor site receive permanent, double-digit tax cuts. Much of the new revenue generated by the expansion of gambling will be offset by the huge reduction in taxes paid by casino operators.
The state just raised taxes on its hard-working citizens -- you and me. Now it wants to reduce taxes for casino owners.
One study indicated that as much as 45 percent of the revenue generated at a National Harbor casino would come from the other casinos already authorized in Maryland.
If 45 percent of the revenue is shifting around among the casinos, so will the jobs supported by that revenue. When you see an ad claiming all these new jobs, remember that nearly half of them are not new at all. They are jobs leaving their existing communities and moving to Prince George's County.
Another thing you are not being told is that there is not a paragraph, not a sentence, not a word nor a semi-colon that guarantees a single penny of gaming revenue will result in additional education funding. Even supporters of Question 7 have to admit this is an empty assurance.
These same promises have been made before and not kept.
If you like gaming, by all means participate. But this legislation is a bad deal for Marylanders and a windfall for casino owners.
All of Carroll County's House delegation members, Don Elliott, Nancy Stocksdale, Justin Ready and myself voted against this bad legislation. Please vote no to question 7.
The writer is a Republican state Delegate representing District 9B.