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State teachers union does not endorse gambling expansion

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Photo - GLASGOW, SCOTLAND- OCTOBER 19:  Slot machines are seen in an amusement arcade following the announcement of the newly proposed gambling bill which will effect casinos and amusement arcades across the UK, October 19, 2004 in Glasgow, Scotland. The new law if approved by the government will allow casinos with over 1,250 slot machines unlimted jackpots, currently Britain has 126 casinos with slot machine winnings being limited to GBP2,000. (Photo by Christopher Furlong /Getty Images)   *** Local Caption ***
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND- OCTOBER 19: Slot machines are seen in an amusement arcade following the announcement of the newly proposed gambling bill which will effect casinos and amusement arcades across the UK, October 19, 2004 in Glasgow, Scotland. The new law if approved by the government will allow casinos with over 1,250 slot machines unlimted jackpots, currently Britain has 126 casinos with slot machine winnings being limited to GBP2,000. (Photo by Christopher Furlong /Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
Local,Maryland,Matt Connolly

The Maryland teachers union voted not not endorse the expansion of gambling in the state, even though raising revenue for education is the expansion's primary purpose.

The Maryland State Education Association needed 58 percent of its voting members to support the measure to make an official endorsement. Expansion could not clear that mark, though the vote was close, MSEA spokesman Adam Mendelson said.

"Our membership is very representative of the entire state both geographically and demographically," Mendelson said. "What you saw at our convention is very similar to the debates that are going on across the state and where the polling is."

The union represents more than 70,000 teachers and school employees across the state. The vote was held at the union's annual convention in Ocean City.

Other teacher unions are mostly supporting Question 7, which would allow table games, round-the-clock operation and a casino in Prince George's County. Last week, the Baltimore Teachers Union and the Prince George's County Educators' Association announced their support for expansion.

While the union's official stance is a "position of no position," opponents of expanding gambling praised the vote's outcome.

"I applaud them for not joining the parade just because the band is playing music," said Arthur Turner, president of the Coalition of Central Prince George's County Community Organizations. "While some say that this is going to be good for schools, we all know that there's no mechanism to force the money to go to education."

State budget analysts have said that money put in the state's Education Trust Fund would increase by $174.5 million by fiscal 2017 thanks to gambling profits if expansion passes, but they also project that the state will reduce the amount of money spent on education from the general fund.

mconnolly@washingtonexaminer.com

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