“Now that the governor’s proposal to expand gambling in Maryland has passed at the ballot box, some state senators and delegates who backed the controversial measure are looking to collect,” writes reporter Annie Linskey in today’s Baltimore Sun.
The idea that those legislators who backed Gov. O’Malley in his support of the gambling legislation would seek benefits in return for its passage is not a new concept to Donald F. Norris, professor and chairman of UMBC’s Department of Public Policy. “I think it is a nearly universal phenomenon in legislative bodies,” he says. “It is a matter of bargaining and cooperation among people. It is human nature.”
Linskey suggests that Baltimore City and County would like to access additional funds for school renovations, while Montgomery County’s top funding priority is transportation.
In the wake of Maryland’s vote for Question 4, UMBC professors T.H. Gindling (economics) and Marvin Mandell (public policy) recently discussed their study, “Private and Government Fiscal Costs and Benefits of the Maryland Dream Act” on NBC Washington news. Their interview highlights the net positive economic impact that each incoming class of undocumented students would have, due to factors such as decreased incarceration rates (and thus lower incarceration costs) for college versus high school graduates.
Donald F. Norris, professor and chairman of UMBC’s Department of Public Policy, commented on Maryland’s passage of both Question 6 (approving same-sex marriage rights) and Question 7 (approving gambling expansion). Of Question 7 he remarked, “Frankly, I’m surprised that it passed statewide,” suggesting that voters might have been swayed by the promise of using increased gambling revenues to boost education funding.
Laura Hussey, assistant professor of political science, told Patch that Gov. O’Malley’s vocal leadership style might have encouraged voters to turn out for the issues he supports. “It’s only recently that we’ve seen Democratic leaders take strong stances on issues like the Dream Act,” Hussey said. “Eventually, some of their voters are going to follow behind them.”
Donald F. Norris, professor and chairman of UMBC’s Department of Public Policy, commented Sunday on the Washington Post‘s finding that out-of-state gambling companies and their allies have spent $56 million in the fight over Question 7, which would allow a Las Vegas-style casino to be built in Prince George’s County.
A Post poll revealed that 51% of likely voters say Maryland’s existing slots program has been a “good thing” for the state, but that 55% are not confident that the plan to expand gambling will produce more money for schools, as proponents suggest.
“I think one has to conclude the ads are making a huge difference,” said Norris, continuing, “People don’t trust politicians, and they’re being told politicians sold them a bill of goods. I think that resonates.”
This November Maryland voters will decide on four major ballot questions addressing same-sex marriage, expanded gambling, undocumented immigrants’ access to higher education and the new congressional map, and ad spending is expected to reach into the millions.
“We haven’t seen anything like it in modern history,” Donald F. Norris, professor and chairman of UMBC’s Department of Public Policy, told the Baltimore Sun. “It is going to be a political junkie’s absolute dream.”
Norris commented more directly on the gambling referendum in the Maryland Daily Record and Baltimore Businesss Journal. He told the Record that the referendum ad campaign will “probably be more vigorous than the presidential campaign” in Maryland and that he anticipates the votes will be clearly in favor of gambling expansion.
Update: Norris also commented in the Gazette that ad campaigns for the referenda will likely be more intense than for the presidential race in Maryland.
Gov. Martin O’Malley has called for a special legislative session on gambling next month in what the Baltimore Sun has dubbed “a high-stakes political bet that he can prevail in a struggle over one of the most contentious issues facing Maryland.” O’Malley would like to expand gambling in Maryland through a proposal that he says would add $100 million in revenue to next year’s state budget. A win could bolster his image as an effective leader both within the state and nationally. But what are his chances?
Donald F. Norris, professor and chairman of UMBC’s Department of Public Policy, told the Sun that an outcome in O’Malley’s favor is likely, saying, “It is either a done deal or very, very close to a done deal.” He added that passing the legislation would “show people who are watching that…he’s got the goods.”