Voters Approve Question 1, Casino Revenue Lockbox for Education

In the general election, Maryland voters approved an amendment to the State Constitution to safeguard State video lottery terminal revenues for education purposes.

A referendum passed by the General Assembly and approved by Maryland voters will eventually provide more than $500 million additional K-12 education funding.

When the General Assembly passed legislation to allow video lottery terminals in some locations in Maryland, they stated that the primary purpose of the terminals was raising revenue for:
(i) Education for the children of the State in public schools, prekindergarten through grade; and
(ii) Public school construction and public school capital improvements; and
(iii) Construction of capital projects at community colleges and public senior higher education institutions.

The law did not mandate dedication of the revenues for these purposes, however.

The constitutional amendment, listed as Question 1 on ballots now mandates the dedication of gaming revenues for education purposes. The ballot question received 89% of the vote with 1983 of 1991 precincts reporting.

The question was placed on ballots as a result of Senate Bill 1122, passed by the General Assembly and approved by the Governor in 2018. That bill put forth the constitutional amendment that requires the Governor to provide supplemental State funding for public education through the use of commercial gaming revenues that are dedicated to public education in the State budget beginning in fiscal 2020.

As described in the bill and the ballot question, the supplemental funding must total at least $125 million in fiscal 2020, $250 million in fiscal 2021, and $375 million in fiscal 2022. In all subsequent years, 100% of the gaming revenues dedicated to public education must be used for supplemental funding.

As described by the Department of Legislative Services, originally, the Education Trust Fund could have been used to support capital projects for public schools, community colleges, and public four-year institutions, as well as to expand public early childhood education programs in the State. However, the 2018 Amendment repealed the constitutional provision specifying that capital projects at community colleges and public senior higher education institutions are among the purposes for which revenue from video lottery terminal facilities is raised.

From the Department of Legislative Services’s Review of the 2018 General Assembly Session:

If the constitutional amendment is approved, general fund expenditures benefiting public schools in the State are expected to increase by $125 million in fiscal 2020 and by $522 million in fiscal 2023.

For more information, see:

MACo’s election coverage and analysis relies, as always, on unofficial results published by the State Board of Elections. Official results will follow, after a full accounting of pending ballots.