Cloudy
38°
Cloudy
Hi 41° | Lo 24°

Hassan defends casino revenue as needed for 'critical' funding priorities

  • Governor Maggie Hassan talks to memebers of the Concord Chamber of Commerce before giving her "state of the state" address to the Chmaber at the Grappone Center; Wednesday, March 27, 2012. <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Governor Maggie Hassan talks to memebers of the Concord Chamber of Commerce before giving her "state of the state" address to the Chmaber at the Grappone Center; Wednesday, March 27, 2012.

    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

  • Governor Maggie Hassan talks to memebers of the Concord Chamber of Commerce before giving her "state of the state" address to the Chmaber at the Grappone Center; Wednesday, March 27, 2012. <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Governor Maggie Hassan talks to memebers of the Concord Chamber of Commerce before giving her "state of the state" address to the Chmaber at the Grappone Center; Wednesday, March 27, 2012.

    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

  • Governor Maggie Hassan talks to memebers of the Concord Chamber of Commerce before giving her "state of the state" address to the Chmaber at the Grappone Center; Wednesday, March 27, 2012. <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)
  • Governor Maggie Hassan talks to memebers of the Concord Chamber of Commerce before giving her "state of the state" address to the Chmaber at the Grappone Center; Wednesday, March 27, 2012. <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

Gov. Maggie Hassan made a case to Concord business leaders yesterday that the revenue in her budget from a casino license is vital to funding several of her priorities, in response to House finance leaders who have crafted an alternate plan without it.

Speaking to the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce, Hassan reiterated many points from her budget address last month and listed goals she said would be impossible without casino-licensing funds.

“While I appreciate the work done by the committee to develop their budget plan through these challenging economic times, it is clear from the placeholder budget they have developed that the $80 million from one casino is needed to restore critical funds for school building aid, for uncompensated care at New Hampshire’s hospitals and for our university system in order for the system to freeze tuition,” she said.

“That’s what’s at stake right now at the State House.”

Hassan also linked casino revenue to her plans to increase funding for the state’s mental health system and investments in “the good jobs and growing businesses of the innovation economy.”

In its budget built around the absence of casino funds, the House Finance Committee proposed a moratorium on aid for new school building projects and lowered Hassan’s spending on the university system, charter schools, payments to hospitals for uncompensated care and other areas.

“We can’t let that happen,” Hassan said at the chamber luncheon at the Grappone Center.

The roughly 200 attendees interrupted her remarks with applause only once, when she spoke not about the budget but about the expansion of the research and development tax credit.

“There are many businesses looking to expand or move to New Hampshire, existing businesses who could use the tax credits to develop new products, and entrepreneurs who with just a little guidance are ready to turn a creative idea into a burgeoning business,” she said. “The research and development tax credit . . . is a key component of our innovation agenda.”

Hassan took questions at the end of the program, one of which also focused on the potential revenue from casino licensing in years to come.

“There is a range of projections, and it depends on the kind of casino you build,” she said.

Proposed legislation that would regulate the casino dictates a capital investment of at least $425 million; estimates of future revenue from that type of facility “go from $50 (million) to $100 million, and I think we’ll see more exact estimates as the plans develop,” she said.

Another question asked Hassan for her “position and plans” on rail service for the state.

Hassan provided neither in her response, but praised the Executive Council’s decision to accept federal funds to study the issue.

“It was controversial in the last session. . . . The good news, though, is that the Executive Council voted in one of our first meetings to accept the federal funding to study . . . rail up from Boston into Nashua, Manchester and even, I hope they will consider, up to Concord as well,” she said.

“I think we do have to understand what the cost-benefit analysis looks like and what level of investment it would take from the state. But I know there is a lot of support for it in the southern tier. and I think it could be a huge economic boon.”

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or
spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

Legacy Comments5

didnt the democrats run on jobs jobs jobs not TAX TAX TAX

If these programs/services are indeed that critical, the Governor should be working on a "Plan B" for logical, reliable ways to pay for them, given the unreliable numbers, the governor's commission finding that expansion isn't all it's cracked up to be and - most immediately - knowing slots are so far from a slam-dunk in this legislature. This endless fear-mongering schtick is getting old. She's been taking lessons from Millennium Gaming/Rockingham Park lobbyists, who have convinced nonprofits who have become dependent on poker night revenue to shill for slots without considering how it would impact their charitable missions and the very revenue they now take in from poker. The same will happen when NH becomes dependent on slot revenue - our state leaders will be asking how high the gaming interests want them to jump.

Gov. Hassan should take her own advice and hire an independent, impartial expert to conduct a cost-benefit analysis on the casino issue, more specifically, on the number of casinos that NH should license. I am very troubled that a recent UMass Dartmouth survey of NH residents showed that nearly 60% of NH residents favor two or more casinos in our state, yet the governor insists on giving a license solely to Rockingham Park. That simply does not pass the smell test. I am also surprised that the Concord chamber did not raise the issue of geographic diversification of casinos. It is pretty clear that siting a single casino in Salem does nothing for the rest of the state, nor does it lure tourism into Manchester, Concord and areas north. I'm not a casino advocate by any stretch of the imagination, but if we're going to license casinos, then let's do it right. Establish three casinos across our state's southern tier --- at Hinsdale, Rockingham and Seabrook --- and then establish one or two casinos in key northern parts of the state to encourage more tourism and hospitality growth. These casinos would not be like Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun, but boutique casinos based on surrounding population of in-state and bordering state residents --- 1,000-2,500 slots, 25 or so table games, a live poker room, and a small hotel and a few restaurants. The key would be to integrate these facilities within the existing economic community, so that the casinos end up feeding customers to local and existing hotels and restaurants as opposed to keeping them confined within its four walls. And for the chambers, with 4-5 boutique casinos within our state, local businesses will be supplying the goods and services that are necessary for the casinos' furnishings and daily operations? I'd rather have five casinos scattered throughout our state, where local businesses are supplying food, beverages, linens, furniture, lawn service, electrical and plumbing services and supplies, lighting, linoleum, and hundreds of other goods and services. Each CT casino spends upwards of $800 million every year on goods and services from local, regional and national businesses.

Well said Edgar. If it's good for the goose (Salem) then its good for the gander (rest of the state).

Interesting how in the "sequestration" it is fine to cut some employees making $50K/yr pay by 20%+ and terminate others, but the university can't fathom the idea of cutting back on those $100K+++ salaries for 3 classes a week for 9 month's time. As long as the tax payers keep throwing money at the schools, tuition will never come down..... I applaud the House on not making a budget based on revenue from a source that is not only non-existent but illegal in NH. Pass the bill, get the money, THEN spend it.

Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.