Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker joins the broadcast to explore the challenges in his jurisdiction - and those throughout the D.C. region.
D.C.’s new ethics panel investigates a Council member. Maryland’s same-sex marriage debate ignites a controversy at Gallaudet University. And local candidates in Virginia, including in Alexandria’s race for mayor, barrel down the home stretch. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
- Rushern Baker Executive, Prince George's County (Md.) (D)
- Tom Sherwood Resident Analyst; NBC 4 reporter; and Columnist for the Current Newspapers
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The Politics Hour proudly presents Flat Sherwood, a distant cousin of Flat Kojo, who himself is a distant cousin of Flat Stanley. You can follow his adventures on Facebook and Twitter. Or you can print your own Flat Sherwood and send us pictures of him at your favorite places in the D.C. area and around the world. Beware that even though he is only a cartoon representation of Tom, he also has a distaste for places with extreme security perimeters and mazes of jersey barriers.
Politics Hour Videos
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker endorsed Question 6, a referendum that would legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland. “It is my intention to vote in favor of Question 6. I do believe it’s a civil rights issue,” Baker said.
Baker explained why he supports Question 7, a ballot measure that would expand gambling in Maryland. Baker said the measure would create new jobs and bring $200 million in revenue to the state.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Politics Hour," starring Tom Sherwood. I'm Kojo Nnamdi. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for The Current Newspapers. Tom, on Election Day, conventional wisdom holds that all drama and suspense will be taking place in Maryland and Virginia, but a new poll sponsored by "The Kojo Nnamdi Show" on Washington City Paper shows at tight race for the non-Democratic at-large seat.
MR. KOJO NNAMDID.C. voters you should know will select two candidates for at-large seat on the Council, one of which cannot be a Democratic. Our poll found that incumbent independent Councilmember Michael Brown holds a narrow five-point lead over challenger David Grosso. No other candidate broke double digits. However, a sizable group remains undecided, 32 percent. The poll was conducted between October 12th and the 14th and surveyed 1,222 registered voters in D.C.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIIt was an automated telephone poll. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent. It found a deep divide along racial lines: 74 percent of Brown supporters are African-American, while 72 percent of Grosso supporters are white, 40 percent of undecided are African-American, 35 percent white. The majority of Michael Brown supporters 65 percent have lived in D.C. for more than 20 years.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIGrosso support comes from primarily from people who have lived here less than 20 years, particularly voters who have lived in D.C. between 10 and 20 years. In news that will surprise no one, Barack Obama is running well ahead of Mitt Romney in the race for D.C.'s three electoral votes, with 88 percent of the vote compared to 8 percent for Mitt Romney. The full poll covered much more than the horse races.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIIt will be released in all its corky glory with insights from registered voters about taxicabs, politics, publicly financed stadiums and the Corcoran Gallery controversy. Tune in to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show" next Thursday for more details and check out Washington City Paper's special politics issue which hits the stands on Wednesday night. No surprises there for you, Tom.
MR. TOM SHERWOODWell, a couple of surprises. You know, Obama got 93 percent of the vote in 2008.
SHERWOODNow, he's fallen to 88 percent. I think his whole campaign is in a freefall.
SHERWOODBut back to the real race that -- probably the most watched race in the city is Michael Brown, the at-large councilmember who's an independent Democratic, who's running for re-election against six or seven other candidates. David Grosso, the former Council staff member who's put up a strong campaign. But you have here on this -- and your own poll here, 40 percent of undecideds are African-American, and 35 percent are white of the total 32 percent undecided.
SHERWOODAnd the big problem for David Grosso is he is not well-known. He's put out some mailers. He's done very well at some of the forums. He presents himself well. Some even called him a little Mendelson, in that he's kind of policy techno...
SHERWOOD....I didn't want to say wonky. So the question for him is just -- and he has some campaign cash still so will he be able to get over the threshold. I don't know that a lot of the African-American voters who are going to go to the polls and going to vote for Obama are going to look down at this ballot and they're going to recognize the Vincent Orange name, which isn't -- he's not -- he's on the ballot but not in this poll.
SHERWOODThey're going to see Michael A. Brown's name. It's a well-known name, and they're going to see David -- what -- who they'll think is Grosso, but his name is pronounced Grosso...
SHERWOOD...which I've learned at several forums I've done. So I think the big hurdle for Grosso is that he's been endorsed by Kathy Patterson, the former Ward 3 councilmember by Bill Lightfoot, who ran the two Fenty campaigns himself...
NNAMDIFormer at-large councilmember.
NNAMDI...by Tommy Wells. And so the racial breakdown in this poll shows the majority of the supporters for Grosso coming in the white communities. It's not a surprise at all. I just think there's going to be a huge vote, and I think Michael Brown will benefit from that.
NNAMDIThe Washington Post today endorsed both David Grosso and Leon Swain, the former head of the taxicab commission, who's a native Washingtonian, lived here all his life, former D.C. police officer, worked with the FBI to uncover fraud in the taxicab industry. Why is he not that well-known?
SHERWOODWell, he isn't well-known. I mean, I would have thought he would have taken more of the two years of undercover work for the FBI in a city that's disgusted with a lot of the ethics of the city and beaten that drum till it broke. But his campaign has not -- he's earnest. He does well at the forums. He speaks very well of what he would like to do as a solid member of the Council, but he's simply not well-known.
SHERWOODHe hasn't raised the money to get well-known. The Washington Post -- one editorial for The Post is not going to make up for a lot of the absence of the campaigning. He means well. Maybe, this is just his first try.
NNAMDITom Sherwood, he is our resident analyst, an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for The Current Newspapers. Later in the broadcast, we will be talking about the investigation of D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham, but it's now time to introduce our guest. Rushern Baker is the county executive of Prince George's County, Maryland. He is a Democrat. He joins us in studio. Rushern Baker, thank you so much for joining us.
MR. RUSHERN BAKERWell, thank you for having me, Kojo. It's good to be here with you and Tom, I think.
NNAMDIGlad you could join us in studio. You'll find out more about whether it's good to be here or not later. If you'd like to join the conversation with the county executive, call us at 800-433-8850 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Rushern Baker, we're barreling down the homestretch here in election season. And while Marylanders are not being targeted by the presidential campaign in quite the same way that their neighbors in Virginia are, they've been bombarded by ads pushing them to vote on ballot questions.
NNAMDIYou are a supporter of one of the most fought over ballot questions, the one that would expand Maryland's gambling program and pave the way for a casino at National Harbor in Prince George's County. Why is this something you feel is necessary and good for Prince George's County?
BAKERWell, you know, I've pushed the legislature to put this on the ballot, and the reason is two very fundamental reasons, one, it creates jobs in Prince George's County and in Maryland, and the other, it brings in revenues that are desperately needed in Prince George's County. A high-end destination resort which I'd like to see at National Harbor would bring in somewhere around $41 million extra money into Prince George's County, about $200 million extra into the state of Maryland.
BAKERRight now, we lose somewhere around $550 million to West Virginia and Delaware and other places that are taking revenues out of Prince George's County and the state of Maryland. So I think this is a good economic development project for Prince George's County. It's a good economic development project for the state. And the other part that's missing, I was in Baltimore earlier today, talking about expanding for table games throughout the state.
BAKERFor Baltimore City, which already has a license for a facility, a gaming facility, they need the table games to be competitive with the region and to build the type of high-end facility that the mayor there would like to see, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. So I think it's a good proposition for the state, and it's a good proposition for Prince George's County.
NNAMDI800-433-8850. Here's Tom Sherwood.
SHERWOODI want to talk about it, but it sounds like saturation of casinos around the state if you have six full-pledged casinos. But I want to ask you about The Baltimore Sun poll that came out in late September, immediately it's now a couple of weeks old, but it showed that the -- that gambling was losing, 53 to 38 opposed, and then Montgomery County, 54 to 34. I know polls are dynamic. They can change. There's been a couple of weeks of nonstop ads. There's -- I do get the sense of that this might not make it.
BAKERWell, I mean, the opposition and it's interesting who the opposition is, originally, we thought and I've -- it's no secret. People know I've opposed slots and gaming in the past on, you know, I'm morally opposed to it. But the voters decided they want gaming in the state of Maryland. But the opposition has not come from a moral opposition to gaming. It's coming from outside of the state gaming interest, Penn National, to be exact, that's spending somewhere 20 million to $30 million, saturating this market, falsely advertising to people that the money won't go into education when they know very well, and the governor said this, the county executive of Montgomery County, Ike Leggett, county executive of Howard County, Ken Ulman, the speaker of the House, the president of the Senate, we all said the money is going to education, public safety and transportation.
SHERWOODIs it in the law -- it's one thing for people to say it and then have events change the mind, but it is -- I don't remember -- in the legislation that allowed for the gambling.
SHERWOODDoes it say it will be education?
BAKERIt will be education. It goes -- a portion of the money goes to the education trust fund, which is our lockbox on education funding. In addition, the Council and myself have agreed that we'll put additional money into education. And what I say to people is look at what we've done over these last two years in this administration. We put about $34 million extra into education just with revenues being flat in Prince George's County and closing $134 million budget deficit. So our commitment to education is strong. We've shown it. Imagine what we'll be able to do with $41 million extra and a high-end destination resort.
NNAMDIGentlemen, please don your headphones because on that education question, I'd like to find out if you have answered Irving's question in Prince George's County, Maryland. Irving, you indicated that you wanted to know that the money would be guaranteed to go to education and that you were confused about that. Are you still confused?
IRVINGSomewhat. My friends and I had a big debate the other day, and I was trying to tell him that it did go to education. But he said, well, it's not as commercial. There's no definite statement saying and quoting the bill and the bill number that says it will be guaranteed. So they -- my friends are being swayed by the negative commercials.
NNAMDIWho won that debate between you and your friends?
IRVINGWell, I actually found the bill, Senate bill three, and I talked about authority rule, which I found. But they said, well, you know, we can't trust the politicians. And so that's not -- but the commercials basically are swaying them the other way.
NNAMDIIrving, thank you for being a diligent listener. Here's Rushern Baker.
BAKERIrving, you did a great job, and you did exactly what the rest of us are doing to the public, and that is we're showing them the bill and the Thornton rule which says that the money goes toward education. It goes into the education trust fund, and then that money is divvied up across the state in Prince George's County.
SHERWOODOn what basis will it be divvied up? Just population?
BAKEREvery jurisdiction -- just population. Every jurisdiction in the state of Maryland gets money from the education trust fund, so Montgomery County, Howard County, Prince George's County, based on population and need. In addition to that, though, what I say to folks is the council and I have already laid out before the bill was passed on how we would spend additional revenues coming into Prince George's County would put in, at least, 20 million additional dollars that come in into education and public safety.
BAKERSo we've said it. We're written about it. We put it in writing. We put memos out there. But the commercials are doing a good job saying, well, you can't believe the politicians. And they're going back to an old bill which had to do with the lottery, which...
NNAMDIWhich brings me to the lottery because you mentioned $41 million -- and, Irvin, thanks for your call -- $41 million coming in from casino gambling. If you get it, people who oppose it say, look at the lottery. The slots program has brought in $433 million and change to Maryland. Once to take out the 143 million that went to the casino operators, the number Maryland has taken in is $290 million. And that's about the amount the state has spent on the machines, so that Maryland's not, they say, making any real money off of slots at all.
BAKERWell, the problem is Maryland's not competitive with their surrounding jurisdictions, which is why the bill also has the table games. In West Virginia, Delaware and other places, Pennsylvania, you have the table games. So in order to be competitive, we need the table games and a sixth site in Prince George's County which is the best site on the East Coast. But back to the lottery, I mean, people use that as an example of money not going toward education.
BAKEROnly 17 percent of the lottery goes toward education. That part of the commercial is correct. What they don't tell you, though, is that's what we've learned from the way they did the lottery. And that is why we put it in a bill. The money has to go to the education trust fund. Additionally, even we accept everything Penn National is telling us that, you know, this money is not going to go toward education. It's going to go in a general fund in Maryland. It's going to go to the general fund.
BAKERIf we accept everything they're saying, Maryland still would get money. Right now, the money that Maryland is spending, Maryland taxpayers are spending are in West Virginia and Pennsylvania and Delaware. So they're using the money. So Penn National is not doing this because they just are good citizens and just want you to know it. They want to keep the revenues coming to their facilities outside of the state. They're a competitor.
SHERWOODA lot of...
NNAMDIRushern Baker is our guest. He is the county executive of Prince George's County, Md. He is a Democrat. We're taking your calls at 800-433-8850. You can send us a tweet, @kojoshow. Tom Sherwood is here. He's our resident analyst, NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for The Current Newspapers.
SHERWOODWell, eyebrows were raised when the Washington Redskins, a professional sports team, weighed in and support for the economic reasons you just described. But -- and NFL says, well, that was OK because there's no sports gambling plan for these casinos. Does Maryland -- does West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware have sports gambling? That's such a huge industry in this country. I'm just concerned -- I'm not concerned.
SHERWOODI'm just wondering, will you get the casinos and then add sports gambling? I'm surprised that you would not go -- I've been to Las Vegas and Atlantic City and you see the sports gambling that's huge.
BAKERIt's -- I'm not sure if West Virginia and Pennsylvania have sports gambling. It is not in our intentions to add that. I don't think that was discussed. The Redskins organization came out in favor because they saw this as being good corporate citizens. One is they're very smart. If we increase the economic development market in Prince George's County in the state of Maryland, there are more folks who will -- who want to come and participate and be and go to Redskins games and buy products.
SHERWOODMake that land more valuable so when they sell it and move back to D.C.
BAKERYou work for the mayor, don't you?
SHERWOODWell, I work for this myself as a journalist.
NNAMDIRushern Baker lying down in front of those bulldozers.
NNAMDIHere is Jackie in Glenn Dale, Md. Jackie, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JACKIEHi, gentlemen. My question is, did the ballot question is voted down this election? Is there a chance to resubmit the question on -- during the next election season?
BAKERThere is, but it won't happen. I mean, pretty much everyone has agreed that, you know, if this comes up in 2014, it's not going to be -- this is the one shot. This is the opportunity for not only to increase the number of sites, a sixth site, but also to have table games. What it means, though, if we vote down this ballot question is Prince George's County in the state of Maryland, quite honestly, will be less competitive with the surrounding jurisdiction, will fall further behind, and an investment that we've already made in five sites, we're going to lose money on.
BAKERSo it's critically important that we support this ballot measure. It's also critically important to Prince George's County. I said earlier, you know, we just closed $134 million budget deficit. Revenues in the county are flat. We're cutting. I have each agency...
NNAMDICan't raise property taxes.
BAKERCan't raise property taxes. I've asked every agency but education and public safety to take a 5 percent cut again this year. We've got to do something to bring revenues into the county, and this is a great opportunity to not only bring a facility, a destination facility, but also to raise economic development.
NNAMDIIs that what caused you to move off of your moral position in opposition to gambling?
BAKERIt did. It was one of the reasons. You know, the first reason was one voter spoke. They voted in favor of having gaming in the state of Maryland. The other was you look at the revenues. If they're going to -- right now, if you look at the revenues that come from gaming, Prince George's County doesn't benefit other than the amount that we get from education trust fund, which every jurisdiction gets.
BAKERBu the number of people in Prince George's County who actually, you know, who actually participate in gaming is significant. So we need the revenues coming back here and then the opportunity to be able to bring in folks from the Washington region to Prince George's County to participate in entertainment at a destination facility and to help spur economic development is something that I think is necessary for the county.
SHERWOODWhat would happen if the District of Columbia built a casino in Downtown D.C.?
BAKERSee, they don't have to. We're building a high-end destination facility right there in Prince George's County where they can easily go over -- come over to the county.
NNAMDISays the man who grew up right around the corner from where I used to live in Shaw. Okay?
SHERWOODWell, you know, a lot of people used to live in the nation's capital now live in that suburb.
BAKERBut, you know, in all seriousness, you bring up a good point that was raised, and that is what happens if another -- if the District or Virginia decides that they you want to build a gaming facility? Well, one of the reasons I support a destination facility at National Harbor is it's as close to being market-proof as you can get because it's not just about table games and slot machines, it's about the high-end restaurants, the entertainment that would come with that type of facility and the high-end shopping.
BAKERSo you're not just relying on table games and slot machines. You've already got a destination point, which is National Harbor. You add another entertainment value to it, and people will come there. So I think it will be able to weather the market.
SHERWOODWhat about Internet gambling, which is starting to take hold and could revolutionize how people gamble in this country?
BAKERRight. But the reason, I think, that having a resort that I'm talking about will be able to weather that is because part of it is this is another extension of your entertainment when you go out. You're not just going to the slot machines or to the table games, you're going to the show or you're going to the boxing match. Sugar Ray Leonard was here, a local hero in Prince George's...
NNAMDIPalmer Park, baby.
BAKERThat's right. Can you imagine being able to get his shots, I mean, get his fights in -- at National Harbor?
NNAMDIWe got to take a short break because this is the final day of our fall membership campaign. After we get through talking about that, we'll come back to this conversation with Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker. If you have already called, stay on the line. We will get to your call. The number is 800-433-8850. Or you can send emails with your questions or comments to email@example.com. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back to The Politics Hour. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for The Current Newspapers. Our guest is Rushern Baker, county executive of Prince George's County, Md. He is a Democrat. And so far, we have been discussing economic issues and the gambling initiative in Maryland. But we have callers who would like to address other issues, so we will start with James in Bowie, Md. James, you are on the air. Go ahead, please.
JAMESHi. Thanks, Kojo. Love the show, and good luck with your pledge drive. Executive Baker, thanks so much for chatting today. And I've followed you for many years now and admire your public service.
BAKERThank you, James.
JAMESBut I am a little concerned and curious about your position on Question 6. You know, it's my belief and the belief of many others that it is a matter of civil rights and it's about equal protection under the law for all Marylanders. And we're just wondering if you could speak to your position on that.
BAKERI'm glad you asked. Before I get to that, let me just say this, I was so moved by the Tom Sherwood piece that we just did that I'm going to make sure I renew my membership before I leave the station today 'cause I can't get the tattoo only but, you know, I want to help.
NNAMDIThank you very much for that contribution. That means you will get exactly 30 seconds of soft questions.
SHERWOODI actually have a pretty good one about Wayne Curry, but go ahead with his answer.
BAKERI'm looking forward to that one. Let me just say this, I mean, I've been asked a number of times about Question 6, marriage equality. And in the past, I've said that, you know, I've decided how I'm going to vote and it's a serious question. It is one that each individual has to answer. I've also commended the governor on doing a great job, I think, in drafting a bill that protects the faith community who don't want to perform these ceremonies, wouldn't have to or be forced to.
BAKERBut I had a conversation with my middle child -- you know, all my children take after their mother, so they're very smart -- who's been very active in marriage equality issues. And I told her the same thing. I said, you know, I have an individual position, but, you know, I don't want to -- you know, I've got a lot of important things I need to do as county executive. And we got to talking.
BAKERShe said the same thing that her mother used to say to me, and that is, you know, as a leader of the county, people expect you to tell them where you stand. And as I'm -- as I did during the death penalty issues, I said to her -- our middle child, Asia (sp?) -- I said, you're right. And I think people need to know what I plan to do. It is my intention to vote in favor of Question 6. I do believe that, you know, if -- it is a civil rights issue, and so, on a personal level, that's what I plan to do. And that's what I'll do on November.
NNAMDIOut of the mouths of children, James, who encourages -- James, care to comment?
JAMESYou know, I just want to say, Executive Baker, that it's just great news and really admire the courage and the stand that you take. I know that you're an attorney. I know that you're from the South. My family is from the South, and there's a long powerful legacy of civil rights. And it's so affirming, and it's so beautiful to see a leader like yourself who is so well respected and is so well known...
NNAMDIOK. Enough of the flattery. Thank you for your call, James. Here's Tom Sherwood.
SHERWOODWhat does it mean politically? President -- well, actually, the vice president, really, spoke first. President Obama didn't. And that -- and the polls showed a remarkable change among the African-American citizens on their view of this issue after President Obama stopped his kind of waffling on the issue and spoke clearly. Did that have any effect on you also, what the president said?
BAKERNot really. I mean, you know, the -- it truly was a conversation with my daughter and our kids about individual decisions. And each person out there is going to make a decision on Question 6, where they stand. And I think as county executive, people want to know where you stand on certain issues, and, to me, that had more of effect in, you know, the president coming out. I think he did the same thing I'm doing, and that is here's individually where we stand on this question.
BAKERWe felt comfortable that everybody's, you know, especially in the faith community, their rights had been protected as to what they can do and cannot do. So, you know, I think that's how I came...
NNAMDIBut it's a very emotional issue on both sides of the issue. And for people in the faith community, they feel that it could be a violation of their faith. You chose your words very carefully here. Are you expecting some political pushback as a result of this?
BAKERNo. I think what the -- let me just say this. It did not have a bearing on my decision to be honest with people as to what I'm individually going to do. But I do have to say that the -- I thought the governor did a tremendous job in crafting, in the legislature, in crafting legislation that would not infringe upon the faith community and force folks who don't believe in this to perform it, at the same time, I think, did a great job in protecting the constitutional rights of all citizens, you know, who are committed to each other in a loving relationship.
NNAMDISo you don't see it as a violation of anybody's faith in the way this bill was crafted.
BAKERNo. The way it was crafted, I feel very good. And you have to remember, I spent -- and this is something my daughter used against me -- I spent eight year -- I mean, eight years in legislature and four on appropriation -- I mean, four on judiciary where we discussed the issue at length. Like I said, they're very smart like their mother, so they asked me tough questions, constitutional questions. And I think the legislature did a good job in crafting legislation that balanced everybody's rights.
SHERWOODDo you think -- given access to any information you have on polling, the Baltimore Sun poll -- that this, in fact, Maryland may become the first state in the nation to -- jurisdiction in the nation to vote it?
BAKERI certainly think that we have, you know, crafted it the way that everyone -- and that's why I see -- I think you see a number of ministers and people from the NAACP to Julian Bond, to everyone else coming out in favor of Maryland's law because I think they did it right.
NNAMDIThere's been a lot of controversy over the redrawn congressional districts in Maryland, another matter that's going to be on the ballot, challenged. It's going to be challenged on the ballot in November. What is your stance on it? How would you say the new voting boundaries, if approved, would affect your constituents?
BAKERI supported the new boundaries. I testified in Annapolis in favor of it. Now, remember, you know, I'm from Prince George's County, so I get a congresswoman whose majority of her district is going to be Prince George's County. That's Congresswoman Donna Edwards. I think it strengthens our position as we look to federal partnership, and I think it's -- so, as county executive, the map that's been drawn is very beneficial to us and what I've heard people say.
NNAMDIThere's apparently nothing in the referendum, however, that even if the challenge is not approved, that prevents -- or if the challenge is approved, preventing the governor and the general assembly from re-enacting the same map next year, it's been pointed out.
BAKERYeah. Yeah, that has been pointed out. I think, you know, like anything, it was -- it's tough when you're doing these maps, when you're drawing congressional districts, especially given the fact that you have sitting congressional members who are used to representing their area. They've campaigned there. Certainly, Congresswoman Edwards has done a phenomenal job in representing Prince George's County and Montgomery County.
BAKERI think she's going to do a great job representing Prince George's County and Anne Arundel County in the new district. But my job as county executive is to put us in the best position -- us meaning Prince George's County -- to advocate for more federal funds, more federal buildings coming to Prince George's County and working with our federal partners.
SHERWOODThis is such a crowded ballot. It may be that this redistricting thing, which is not one of the hot emotional issues, could just be lost in the shuffle. Even the people who put it on the ballot aren't really out there campaigning and have raised so little money they don't even have to report. So it looks like, to me, this redistricting thing is going to be lost on a very heavy ballot.
BAKERWell, I think that there are a lot of questions out there, but I think people have paid attention to it. And I think once they look at the way it was drawn, that it will be beneficial to the state to pass it. So we're certainly advocating that people vote yes for this initiative.
NNAMDIOn to the telephones. Here is Mike in Washington, D.C. Mike, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MIKEHi. Thanks for taking my call. I had a quick question regarding the education spending for the gaming.
MIKEI said, do we specifically know where the gaming money is going to go in education? I'm a teacher in Prince George's County Public Schools. It's my fourth year teaching. Is there a place I can look for that? 'Cause I'm not sure which way I need to vote on this, and I've watched firsthand wasteful spending in Prince George's County. And I would hope that at least some of the revenue would go to tuition reimbursement as I'm looking to start grad school, or the unfreezing of wage changes, meaning we would get raises based on master's or Ph.D. degrees.
NNAMDIWell, allow me to have Rushern Baker answer you. You asked several questions.
BAKERWell, you have a lot of good suggestions. I hope that you become a member of the teachers union and get into leadership there. I agree with you. I would like to see -- and I've said this publicly to the school system -- I'd like to see us give teacher raises in the -- in Prince George's County and have programs like getting your master's and becoming a nationally board-certified teacher, reimbursements upfront.
BAKERSo -- but by law, I can put the money into the education, to the school system. I can't direct them how to spend the money. I can suggest it, which we've done in the past. When we did the $21 million extra this year, my suggestion was that they do raises. At a time when we have to be competitive with surrounding jurisdictions, I think it's important that we do that.
SHERWOODBut another education issue, quickly, is the DREAM Act. The...
SHERWOODI can't tell how it's doing in the state. Dream Act allows children of illegal immigrants to go -- to get in-state tuitions if they have three -- their parents have three years of income tax returns and a graduate from Maryland high school. I presume you're for this. And how is it working out in terms of balloting around the state?
BAKERI certainly am. It allows children of undocumented immigrants to -- who've gone to high school in Prince George's County and the state of Maryland to pay in-state tuition. It's a great thing for us in the county and in the state. These are our children. We want them to become as educated as possible 'cause they'll be productive to the society. And there are restrictions on it. You know, you've got to pay three years of taxes. You've got to start at a community college. So it is -- it has a lot of restrictions on there.
BAKERBut more importantly, I think it's the right thing to do. We want productive members of society. The majority of these children only know the United States and only know the state of Maryland. They're not going anywhere else. They're staying here. And we need to make sure that they're highly educated and that they are productive members and so on and so forth.
NNAMDIWe're running out of time very quickly, county -- Mr. County Executive. But can you briefly talk to us about this Economic Development Incentive Fund that you have and the goals, other than who it's supposed to help?
BAKERWell, it's -- the EDI incentive fund, which -- our $50 million incentive fund, has now started to get out the door. And it's like the stimulus money that president used. We're trying to jumpstart the economy in Prince George's County. And this is us putting some skin in the game so we can be competitive with Mr. Sherwood's Washington, D.C.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your brevity. Rushern Baker is the county executive of Prince George's County, Md. He's a Democrat. And thank you very much for joining us.
SHERWOODYou know, out of that 50 million, he could have 3 point -- 3,500 for a D.C. tattoo for Sherwood. I promise to go on a tour at Prince George's County to show it off to all the people who used to live in the city who moved out there.
NNAMDIHe'll go out riding on his bicycle. It'll be a slow tour to see the Tom Sherwood tattoo. Once again, Rushern Baker, thank you for joining us.
BAKERThank you for having me.
NNAMDIAnd thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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