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In Her Own Words: To fund pressing priorities, let’s license a casino

In her state budget address yesterday, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan proposed that the state approve construction of a casino and rely on $80 million from the licensing fee. She also endorsed a plan to expand the pool of those people eligible for health coverage under Medicaid. Here are excerpts from the speech, describing these two priorities:

To fund our most pressing priorities, especially higher education and mental health, my budget includes $80 million from licensing one high-end, highly regulated casino.

I know expanded gambling has been an ongoing and difficult debate. But the social costs many are worried about are already here, and with Massachusetts moving forward, we can no longer pretend that expanding gambling isn’t coming to our communities. It is.

The question is: Will we allow Massachusetts to take revenue from New Hampshire’s residents to fund its needs, or will we develop our own plan that will allow us to address social costs and invest in our priorities?

I believe we should move forward with one high-end casino, while at the same time protecting New Hampshire’s brand as a family-friendly state with a great outdoor economy.

The revenue from one casino would mean tens of millions of dollars a year that can be used to strengthen our economy and address our priorities, such as freezing in-state tuition and addressing our mental health crisis, as well as funds to address social costs like substance abuse and gambling addiction.

A high-end casino would also bring a significant economic boost, creating more than an estimated 2,000 jobs during construction and 1,000 long-term jobs, while attracting new businesses and economic development.

With the intense competition for casinos in Massachusetts leading to 11 applications for only three licenses, it’s clear that there is more than enough room in our region for a New Hampshire casino. . . .

I want to continue working with members of both the House and Senate to develop a final bill that addresses
concerns, protects what’s special about New Hampshire, and invests in our priorities.

Medicaid expansion

Uncompensated care at our hospitals’ emergency rooms increases costs for everyone. By moving forward with Medicaid expansion, we can reduce that uncompensated care and save the average New Hampshire household an estimated $145 per year.

The federal government will provide 100 percent of the funding for the first three years and no less than 90 percent thereafter, and the federal government has historically fulfilled its commitments to the Medicaid program.

Our budget includes Medicaid expansion; it is the right thing to do for our economy, for our state’s finances and for our families.

As both Democratic and Republican governors around the nation have said, it’s a good deal, one that will, among other things, allow us to save money in existing state programs, while increasing state revenues.

Under federal law, people insured through Medicaid expansion will receive coverage parity for mental health and substance abuse treatment.

This parity is smart and it is right, and so this budget provides for mental health
and substance abuse treatment coverage for our existing
Medicaid population as well.

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