By Len Lazarick | Maryland Reporter
ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Martin O’Malley seems hellbent on having a special session of the Legislature to expand gambling, perhaps the week of Aug. 6, but there are lots of good reasons not to bring the General Assembly back to Annapolis.
This is the peak of the vacation season.
Unhappy legislators are not prone to give the governor his way.
Even though the pressure is mounting to put an expansion of gaming on the fall ballot, the urgency doesn’t make sense. The governor’s work group, which didn’t reach a consensus on a reduction in tax rates for casino operators, did agree that any new Prince George’s County casino wouldn’t open for four years. This means that the thousands of anticipated construction jobs likely wouldn’t materialize for two years, and the new revenue from the casino wouldn’t show up for at least four.
None of the estimated slots revenue intended for schools has arrived on time. Since the largest casino, Maryland Live!, opened last month, there’s no telling if this money will even meet projections. Earlier estimates have not.
Since this discussion started — in February — the House of the Delegates has felt bullied by Senate President Mike Miller to pass this measure. The House resistance caused the regular session to end without completing work on the budget, forcing a special session in May.
Now O’Malley has piled on, criticizing the House leadership for not going along with a compromise.
The governor still doesn’t have the votes in the House.