After a lagging recession defined by budget cuts and salary freezes, three Maryland public school employees lucked into a record bonus Tuesday, when they claimed their Mega Millions winning lottery ticket.
As reported by The Washington Post, the trio has chosen to remain anonymous. But the winners include an elementary school teacher, a special education teacher and an administrative assistant.
After taxes, each will go home with about $35 million. Still, they plan to continue working in the schools, according to state lottery director Stephen Martino.
Maryland seems to be tying more of its own funds to luck, especially for education.
In fiscal year 2011, more than $519 million — nearly one-third of the annual lottery revenues — went to the state’s general fund to pay for education, public health and other expenses.
Maryland voters also approved slot machines in 2008 to help boost state revenues. In fiscal 2011, Maryland’s two resulting casinos generated $103 million in revenue, and nearly half went into an Education Trust.
When the proposal was pitched to voters, it was sold as extra funding that would help schools grow — “slots for tots,” as it came to be known in some school circles. But declining state revenues and slow start-up times for several casinos meant that the new funding stream has essentially replaced traditional sources, said Sean Johnson, managing director for political and legislative affairs for the Maryland State Education Association.
“I don’t think slots were a terrible deal for education,” Johnson said. “But we have not seen...a windfall for schools.”
Washington Post blogger Valerie Strauss describes on the Answer Sheet how, across the country, lottery funds have done little to expand academic horizons but instead have come to be relied on for basic classroom necessities.
Negotiations in Annapolis broke down Monday night on the last day of the General Assembly session, as lawmakers deadlocked over proposed tax increases for high-income earners and a new casino in Prince George’s County.
The taxes would bring immediate revenue, and the casino, advocates promise, would bring long-term funding for schools. Without either, projected state funding for Prince George’s would drop by $65 million, and Montgomery County would lose more than $41 million.
A special session is expected to be scheduled to resolve the impasse.