Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Sonja Santelises said the school system is facing a $129 million deficit in next fiscal year's budget, the largest gap in recent years. (Baltimore Sun video)
If you really want to educate your readers on what happened to the education funds from the casino revenue, you should do an in-depth article on how it was manipulated by Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration and House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller. As a former staffer for a delegate, I know the smoke and mirrors used at that time ("Casino revenues not reflected in school funding," Jan. 20).
Prior to the approval of the casino gambling, the O'Malley administration drew funds from transportation and education to balance the state budget (which, by law, has to come in balanced). Seeing that revenue was going to come in eventually, a lot of "unfunded" mandated initiatives were passed and included in the budgets. To keep pace, over 40 taxes and fees were added to pay for the mandates. Once the casino revenue started coming, they began to replace the money that was taken from the Transportation Trust Fund and from education, but the level of funds available for education never increased.
Now, the casino revenue is paying for the previously unfunded mandates. With almost a billion dollars coming in revenue each year, the education funding should have increased drastically after you take out the amounts that went to jurisdictions that are home to the casinos. This did not happen because of the mandated funding. Gov. Parris Glendening imposed the "Thornton" funding formula that mandated more spending on public K-12 education. If you really want to serve your readers, expose all of the mandated but unfunded programs that ate up the casino revenue under Governor O'Malley and continue to this day. Give them a spreadsheet because, as you hear, they are totally confused why it has not done what promised.
Oh, by the way, had Speaker Busch not originally stopped the casino gambling bill from passing (he alone did this as it passed the Senate) when it was first proposed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. because of partisan politics, the state would be almost $1 billion dollars richer in revenue. But I am sure you will not include that.