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State officials spar over slots in Prince George's

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Local,Maryland,Ben Giles

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said it would be a travesty if the state chose to use slots to fund a new hospital for Prince George's County, in a debate that will figure prominently in the county's request for more money from the General Assembly next month.

After voting against authorizing the state to spend $169 million to lease slot machines for a casino at the Arundel Mills mall, Franchot blasted efforts to tie the fate of a new $600 million regional medical center to plans to bring casino-style gambling to Rosecroft Raceway.

"The idea that a much-needed hospital in Prince George's County could somehow be connected by Annapolis leaders to bringing the hospital to the county borders on extortion," Franchot said. "Prince George's County has a well-documented need for a new hospital. The state of Maryland should view that objectively and appropriately assist with getting that."

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., who has been pushing for slots at Rosecroft Raceway to help fund the county's steep budget requests, called Franchot's opposition hypocritical. Miller opposed a failed bill before the Prince George's County Council that would have banned slots machines from the county.

"Peter Franchot is a chameleon. He sponsored slots bills in two different years when he was in the House of Delegates to fund education," Miller said. "Now he's not for slots no matter how valid the use of the money is."

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