Pimlico upgrade money would come from Maryland schools budget, why wasn’t this the headline in the first place?

Finally, there’s an answer to the burning question of whether the casino tax money that the owners of Pimlico racetrack want to use to pay for renovations would come from additional casino taxes or money diverted from education funding. It’s hidden halfway down through a followup article in the Baltimore Sun, but there it is:

Under current law, when the 16-year window ends, the casinos would keep paying the money, but it would go to the state’s Education Trust Fund.

Supporters of the plan say they aren’t worried about diverting money to the tracks that otherwise would go to education.

“There are any number of significant policy issues a state has to wrestle with. Education is among them,” Rifkin said. He noted the plan has support from Baltimore’s mayor and county executives in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties, who are all pushing for more money for schools.

Well, that’s just splendid! The state of Maryland is looking at shifting $375 million from future schools funding to subsidizing horse racing tracks, but you know, it’s a big state and there are a lot of things to be funded, so why worry about what money is exactly being siphoned off from where?

Sean Johnson, a lobbyist for the Maryland State Education Association, did say that he’s “confident there’s enough space to accomplish both our goals on fully funding our schools and the General Assembly’s goals on any number of things,” which implies that he’s maybe been promised the state legislature will backfill the lost casino tax revenue somehow. (Or else he’s just very, very bad at his job of trying to ensure that state money is spent on education.) But even if the money will be replaced from somewhere else, it still has to come from somewhere — and it’s either going to be a new tax or reduced spending on something else, because those are the only two ways that budgets work.

This is something you might think would be important to call out for Sun readers, but instead it comes up in paragraph #16 of an article titled “Before deal to keep Preakness in Baltimore reaches finish line, it will face jostling in the General Assembly.” Because why mention anything about schools funding when there’s a racing metaphor to be had! Clearly that plan of laying off newsroom staff to pay for the cost of their colleagues being murdered is working out just great for the Sun.


6 comments on “Pimlico upgrade money would come from Maryland schools budget, why wasn’t this the headline in the first place?

  1. This deal is so ridiculous, it has to be political cover to get the Preakness out of Baltimore.

    There’s no way a Triple Crown race would be held at an empty field with some temporary bleachers (which is what Pimlico would become). The city & the race track owners had to know that it’d come out that the horse racing subsidy would come from education money.

    It’s crystal clear (to me, at least) that the Pimlico owners bought the track with the intent of starving it, razing it, selling it off to developers, and moving the Preakness to Laurel (a city, by the way, where there is an OUTSTANDING Tuesday night DJ at the TGI Friday’s, plus security to prevent parking lot fights!).

    • Selling it off to developers? Are there a lot of developers lining up to build in that part of Baltimore?

      • I don’t know that area of Baltimore, but apparently it’s attractive to developers. There’s an affluent area just to the north. They probably want to create one of those setups with restaurants, retail, and condos/apartments in a little fake city.

  2. I’m not surprised the MSEA is relaxed about this proposal. Right now they are locked in a battle with Gov. Hogan over the “Kirwan Commission” recommendations on school funding. If they get the funding they get the funding and some other poor schmuck has to pay the difference. If they don’t get the funding they have a political cudgel to beat Gov. Hogan and they’re no worse off than before.

  3. Well, the schools do have tens of thousands of the classic “Healthy Holly” books by that celebrated children’s book author, Mayor Catherine Pugh, to cushion the loss of anticipated future funds.

    But my question is, and I’m not a real estate expert, why would anyone spend millions of dollars to build a state of the art racing facility in a poor, dilapidated neighborhood? Is “Location, location, location” no longer valid in 21th century America?

    • I’m sure the walk up crowd, if any, would be extremely brave, foolish, or more likely, both.