Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that he plans to introduce legislation similar to a bill proposed by Democrats last month that would require the state’s share of casino money to be spent on K-12 public education.
The main difference between the two bills is that the Democrats’ proposal includes a constitutional amendment that would need voter approval, while Hogan’s bill does not.
The state promised to allocate casino money to schools when voters approved a constitutional amendment that allowed slot machines starting in 2008 and table games starting in 2012. But the amendment did not require that the revenue be spent that way.
Hogan said his bill would increase education spending by $4.4 billion over the next 10 years, with $1 billion dedicated to school construction.
“This legislation will fix a flawed bill,” Hogan said at a news conference where he was joined by State Comptroller Peter Franchot (D). “The voters need to get what was promised to them.”
The measure proposed by Democrats would require the state to gradually increase its funding by $500 million above current funding formulas.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said the Democratic-controlled legislature is also committed to putting casino money in a so-called “locked box,” but wants voter approval for the idea.
“We wanted the citizens to know what was in the locked box,” Busch said. “Once you get that referendum approved you’re pretty much locked into that. You can’t shift that money around if you get into different areas of fiscal problems.”