As predicted, the issue of whether to fund a large portion of Maryland's budget by legalizing slot machines at the state's horse tracks is quickly becoming a top issue in the governor's race. Citizens need to pay close attention to who is saying what and demand some straight answers.
The issue became more urgent this month when the Maryland General Assembly agreed to boost education funding by raising cigarette taxes by 34 cents per pack. That will provide enough money to fund the recommendations of the Thornton Commission for two years.
After that, the General Assembly must decide whether to cut off the funding or find another revenue source. Given that the only two possibilities are legalizing slots or raising taxes, the pressure will be on to okay slots.
That's the position taken by Rep. Robert Ehrlich, the likely Republican nominee. Not only would Ehrlich legalize slots at the tracks, but would also approve their use at off-track betting parlors, known as OTBs.