Boosting Community Colleges
By Barry Rascovar
MARYLAND is way behind the learning curve. It needs to look to what Republican Gov. Bill Haslam is proposing in Tennessee: free community college for any high school graduate in the state.
While Gov. Martin O’Malley’s State of the State Address lacked creativity and forward-looking initiatives, Haslam delivered a cutting-edge plan to Tennessee lawmakers. He’ll use lottery proceeds to set up a $300 million endowment for the two years of free-tuition guarantees to state high school grads at community colleges or technology centers.
The “Tennessee Promise” stands in stark contrast to O’Malley’s niggardly attitude toward Maryland community colleges, which actually serve as the education backbone of this state. Instead of making enhanced funding of community colleges a priority, the lame-duck governor wants to reduce mandated funding levels.
It’s another example of O’Malley’s missed opportunities.
Perhaps some of the wannabe candidates for Maryland governor will notice Haslam’s daring proposal in Tennessee, which could put that state in great position to attract new companies. In Maryland, sadly, community colleges remain an undiscovered gem.
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Rob, We Hardly Knew Ye
GOOD NEWS for democracy: Twelve-term Congressman Robert Andrews of South Jersey is making an early exit from Capitol Hill in ten days. Thank goodness.
Andrews is under investigation for using campaign funds for family trips to California and Scotland. In 24 years, he’s had no real leadership role in the House.
He’s introduced more bills than any other congressman during that time. His record of success? Six hundred forty-six bills thrown in the hopper; none passed.
Think about that.
A .000 batting average.
O for 646 at-bats, with 646 strike-outs.
No wonder the Washington Post labeled Andrews “America’s least successful lawmaker.”
His departure will hardly make a wave.
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Maryland’s Slick Casino Move
NO ONE noticed at the time, but Maryland pulled a fast one on casino bidders for the new license in southern Prince George’s County.
Everyone was expecting a long, drawn-out courtroom battle after MGM Resorts International won the coveted license. MGM plans to build a $925 million luxury gambling/hotel mecca overlooking the national’s capital.
But neither Greenwood Racing nor Penn National, the losers, will contest the award — despite the fact Penn National could see its Charles Town, WV, casino lose hundreds of millions of dollars due to MGM’s earlier-than-expected start in mid-2016.
Why didn’t the losers gripe in court and prolong the matter? Because of a provision in the state’s request for proposals (RFP). It turns out, the state gets to keep all of the bidders’ down-payments until appeals are concluded.
That would have meant the $18.5 million Penn National put up, and the $29 million Greenwood Racing put up would be locked away in an escrow account for years.
That’s a hefty punishment for profit-making companies to absorb.
The companies decided to forego the longshot bet of winning on appeal. This way, they get all those millions returned immediately so they can re-invest that money in other casino bids or expansion elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the state gets to reap a gigantic benefit — the early opening of what experts say will be the most profitable casino in the mid-Atlantic region, with the state keeping over half of those proceeds.
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