Cleveland, Ohio¡V The claims of Issue 3 casino backers are reaching the level of the ridiculous, according to the Vote NO Casinos Committee. In response to a series of full-page ads appearing in newspapers statewide, David Zanotti, committee co-chair asked: ¡§How big a lie are nine casino owners willing to tell to gain access to billions more in profits?¡¨ Vote No Casinos raised the following questions regarding the Learn and Earn Casino advertisements:
Ad Copy: ¡§If you want more than $850 million for college tuition grants for every Ohio student¡K¡¨
The Facts: The economic projections on slot revenues available to fund the Learn and Earn Tuition program have been discredited by no less than Charlie Ruma, Chairman of the Learn and Earn Committee. Mr. Ruma has conceded the economic projections on Issue 3 have been inflated and that he disagrees with the inflated projections. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, Wednesday, October 9, 2006)
The language of Issue 3 is very specific about the difference between college scholarship funds and tuition grants. Each type of funding award is defined in a specific and separate paragraph in the proposed amendment. Tuition ¡§grants¡¨ are available to only the top 5% of each graduating class beginning with the class of 2009. These grants disappear after twelve years. The Vote Yes ad campaign is factually incorrect on two points: 1) the amendment does not set aside $850 million dollars for college tuition grants and 2) 95% of Ohio students will not ever qualify for those grants.
Ad Copy: ¡§Yes vote on Issue 3 guarantees more than $850 million each year in college tuition grants for two million Ohio school children putting a college education within reach for every Ohio family.¡¨
The Facts: There is no guarantee on the actual dollar amounts to be created by Issue 3. No security has been presented, casino owners are not required to take out bonds to guarantee college funding, no collateral is at risk. The inflated projections being made by the Vote Yes Committee carry no legal authority. If casinos fail to perform at the rates promised, no one is required to enforce the promises made for college tuition funds. Parents and students will simply be out of luck. There is no legal guarantee on how much money will be available.
The constant use of the terms ¡§every Ohio student¡¨ and ¡§every Ohio family¡¨ are in clear contradiction to the language proposed in Issue 3. There are clear qualifications that will prevent ¡§every student¡¨ from attaining scholarship support from Issue 3, including: „« Only students who attend Ohio colleges and Universities will qualify for funding. Approximately 43% of all Ohio graduates do not currently attend Ohio colleges and would be left out of any tuition support promised by Issue 3. „« Distance learning students, home-schooled students, and students attending private non-chartered schools are not eligible for scholarships or grants, leaving thousands more out of the promised funding.
„« Students hoping to qualify for ¡§scholarship¡¨ funding must also: 1. Take core and advanced academic courses 2. Participate in college readiness programs, assessment, and testing 3. Contribute to public life through voluntary civic activity 4. Attend any public or independent not-for-profit institution of higher education authorized by the Board of Regents.
„« College Scholarship funds do not apply to every student in Ohio. No students currently in college get one penny from Issue 3. No students graduating in 2007 or 2008 will get a penny from this fund. The amendment is ambiguous as to when the actual scholarship money will be paid out to graduates who qualify and how much each scholarship will be worth.
None of these exceptions and qualifications appears in any of the Learn and Earn Casino advertisements either in print or on television. Clearly, ¡§every Ohio student¡¨ does not qualify for tuition assistance from Learn and Earn Casinos.
¡§The failure to disclose these significant exclusions is just another example of the dishonest campaign being run by the casino developers in Ohio¡¨ stated David Zanotti. ¡§No honest business could get away with selling so many false promises to parents and children. No honest business would ever attempt to sell a program so filled with loopholes as guaranteed.¡¨
The Vote NO Casinos Committee is a voluntary network of citizens, community leaders and elected officials all opposing Ohio Ballot Issue #3, the Learn and Earn Casino amendment. The Committee is co-chaired by Ohio Auditor Betty D. Montgomery, and David Zanotti, President of the Ohio Roundtable.
Paid for by Vote NO Casinos, 3121 Bay Landing Dr., Bay Village, OH 44145, Mark Mattson, Treasurer.