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Hassan: Without revenue from a casino, Legislature will have to make difficult cuts

  • Governor Maggie Hassan<br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

Many legislators may be unhappy that Gov. Maggie Hassan included $80 million in casino-licensing revenue in her proposed two-year state budget. But without that money, Hassan says, the Legislature will have to make painful cuts to her spending proposals in order to balance the budget.

“If we don’t have the revenues from one high-end, highly regulated casino license, then we are going to find ourselves making very difficult cuts, and . . . from the conversations I’ve been having, it appears to me that the Legislature will cut mental health, university funding, the things that were cut in the last budget,” Hassan, a Democrat, said Friday during an interview with Monitor editors.

Hassan’s proposed budget, unveiled last month, would increase total state spending in the next biennium by 10.2 percent from the current biennium, and increase general-fund spending by 7.1 percent. After the deep cuts in the state budget passed by the Legislature in 2011, she’s proposed increased funding for community colleges and public universities, mental-health services and other programs.

Hassan has backed legislation that would allow a single casino in the state, with an $80 million license fee that would help balance the next state budget. But while the GOP-led Senate has supported past casino proposals, the Democratic-led House has traditionally opposed expanded gambling.

It’s not clear if a casino bill would pass the House this year, and Republicans have called it risky for Hassan to include revenue from a casino license in her budget. But Hassan said things like higher education funding and a new women’s prison are important, and the state needs to find a way to pay for them.

“One of the concerns I have, and one of the things that I think we all need to think about, is, if the casino bill doesn’t pass and licensing fees aren’t available for the budget, it appears to me that the first things the Legislature will cut are exactly those things,” Hassan said.

The plan endorsed by Hassan, a bipartisan bill pending in the Senate, would levy a 30 percent tax on casino net earnings. But a report released Thursday by the nonpartisan New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies said the revenue raised under that plan could be canceled out by competition from Massachusetts and the social costs of expanded gambling.

In response, Hassan said the state will see social costs anyway as Massachusetts moves ahead with its plan to build three casinos and one slots parlor in the coming years.

“We will lose not only gambling revenue, but the rooms-and-meals revenue that goes with that, and that revenue will be used to build Massachusetts roads and bridges, while the social costs, to extent there are some, will come back to our state anyway because our residents live here,” she said. “So I think it’s really important to seize the moment, and I think it’s really important to take a look at what the numbers really are.”

But while the specifics of the legislation, such as the tax rate, could change through the legislative process, much will depend on what the overall market can support, she said.

“Obviously bills are works in progress, but there is a casino market, and a casino in southern New Hampshire will need to compete with rate structure as well,” Hassan said.

During last year’s campaign to replace outgoing four-term Democrat John Lynch, Hassan spoke often about the importance of investing in transportation infrastructure. She’s continued to highlight that theme since taking office in January.

Still, she declined to take a position on a bill pending in the House that would raise the gas tax by 15 cents over four years to fund road and bridge projects. The casino bill in the Senate is also in the mix, since it would earmark some revenue from the casino for transportation projects.

“I think we need to find a consensus way forward to fund long-term infrastructure, and I don’t know that I’m seeing consensus in either of those bills yet, but I’m really eager to work with members of the Legislature to find that consensus point,” Hassan said.

Hassan included more money in her budget for the Children in Need of Services, or CHINS, program, which was cut two years ago. The program provides counseling and other services to children with behavioral, truancy and other problems, to intervene before those issues can escalate to criminal behavior.

Her budget doesn’t fully restore what was cut, though, and the House last month passed a bill that would create a legislative committee to study the program and suggest legislation for next year to reform it.

“It’s a solid fix that contemplates additional changes after we’ve had a study,” Hassan said of her budget’s proposal for the CHINS program

Minimum wage,
medical marijuana

Hassan yesterday also said the state should have a minimum wage ­– in 2011, the then-Republican-led Legislature repealed the state’s minimum wage. There are a number of bills pending at the Legislature that would set the state minimum wage at various rates, including one that would match the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

But Hassan declined to say which bills she could support.

“I want to bring businesses and labor together and see what makes sense for people in terms of the actual rate,” she said. “But I do think it’s important for the state to have a minimum wage, and I do think it’s important for people who work hard to be able to support themselves and pay rent and support their family and afford health care.”

Hassan has also said she supports legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. There’s a bill in the House that would do that, but she said she’d be concerned if the legislation allowed patients to grow their own marijuana, instead of obtaining it at a special dispensary, or if the bill contained broad definitions for the medical conditions eligible for marijuana use.

“My preference would be that we start with tight prescribing definitions and (a) dispensary,” she said.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

The NH Advantage, only for the No New Taxes wealthy: New Castle per capita income $88,926. New Castle property tax rate $6.39. Claremont per capita income $21,676. Claremont property tax rate $34.37.

BINGO!!!!!!

Given the increasing competition from other states, the likelihood that expanded gambling would bring in significant new revenue seems a stretch. And that's not factoring in the very real social costs that come from promoting gambling. Voters rejected the only gubernatorial candidate willing to have an adult conversation on the issue of taxes--Jackie Cilley. Unless and until the people of the state are able to have a serious discussion about raising revenue from either a sales or an income tax, NH will find itself increasingly unable to pay for the services the state needs to provide in the 21st century. While increasing the gas tax is long overdue, the fact some would divert some of that money to pressing needs other than roads and bridges is emblematic of the real NH Way--robbing Peter to pay Paul.

By gosh, you have a point. Why don't we just turn our paychecks over to the government and they can decide how much we can keep or have. In fact, everyone can have the exact same amount of money and government can then decide how we can spend it. That way, we will all be better off, right? Peter and Paul? No Progressives are robbing the populace in the name of the "public good". They have never seen a "program" that they are not head over heels in love with. Jackie Cilley? Not qualified and she is a Socialist. No thanks, Hassan is bad enough. Gambling? If it is good enough for native Americans to use to raise money, we should do it as well.

You're all wet itsa. The greatest period of growth and prosperity in the history of the United States was also the period of the highest taxes on the rich and big corporations. She took the stupid pledge, and now she - and we - are gonna pay for it. Of course, if she had taken the pledge, she wouldn't have won. Hopefully the days of axing the pledge being a death sentence for a candidate are numbered. If only we can keep the tea-party/"free"-state/libertarian wing of the GOP at bay . . .

Not really. I seem to remember the Reagan years and my measly salary doubled in those 8 years. What we need is efficiency in the bureaucracy of state government, multi-tasking employees and productivity. Get rid of the top heavy bureaucracy and the SEIU / SEA and we stand a fighting chance without more taxes.

Reply to the post below: There you go again--the personal anecdote, beginning with, "I seem to remember...". It manages to trump the facts every time. Amazing.

Bet she wishes she hadn't taken that stupid pledge now.

It's ok with me if the Gov. rethinks the stupid pledge.

What about the billions in untaxed revenue in tax havens that was included in the BPT tax base from 1981-1986. It was and still is called worldwide unitary taxation. In a recent Economist magazine, the cover story was "The Missing $20 Trillion - How to stop companies and people dodging tax." Per the article, "unitary taxation would aim to tax activities where they actually occur, not where some tax adviser has shifted them. The company would produce a single set of accounts and its worldwide profits would then be apportioned using a formula that takes in assets,sales and other measures in each jurisdiction." NH adopted water's edge unitary taxation in 1986 at the behest of Thatcher, Reagan, and Sununu. FYI the US Supreme sanctioned worldwide unitary taxation in 1994 in their Barclays Bank and Colgate-Palmolive decisions by votes of 7-2 and 9-0, respectively. Go back NH - go back to worldwide unitary taxation, a global method for the global economy.

You folks call for taxes and more taxes and more taxes to feed the trough that those in government feed from in self perpetuating power and control. Maybe some of these wealthy people are sick of 67 cents from every dollar that they earn being sucked up and spent on what some faceless bureaucrat believes is a worthy cause.

Name even one of "these wealthy people" who has "67 cents from every dollar that they earn being sucked up". Your comment is absurd, and flies in the face of every bit of data on taxes and income in this country over the last 3 decades.

In California, the top earners, the job creators pay the high tax rate of 39.6% on their income and 13.3% state tax. Add local taxes, property taxes, fees and licenses and you are around 63%. In New York people earning $1,000,000 or more are subject to the same federal tax plus 12.9% in local and state taxes. I think that paying out over half of what you have coming in is absurd. Yes, yes, I get it. You are not as fortunate as them and you envy them, get over it. Make your own wealth and if you want to give the government more, please do. Thank you.

Reply to itsa below: First: the rate you cite is the marginal rate--it only applies to money earned over and above the first million dollars. State income taxes are deductible from federal taxes, so the effective rate is just under 52%. Your claim of '67 cents of every dollar'--even factoring in other taxes, is a gross exaggeration. Given that the marginal federal rate in 1945 was over 66%, in 1965 was over 55%, in 1982 was just under 48%, that the top rate has just been restored to 36.4% should not make us feel sympathy for those you claim to be the "job creators" (not a lot of evidence to support that claim, btw). Given that between 1980 and 2005, 80% if the increase in income in this country went to the top 1%, while incomes for most Americans have remained flat since 1970, despite huge productivity gains, one begins to think something is amiss. Median income would be $92,000/year instead of $50,000/year if everyone's income had kept pace with the economy since 1970. Where you go off the rails (as usual) is in pretending that this huge increase in wealth at the top is due solely to the hard work and diligence of those who've accrued that wealth. It isn't. Nor is it due to outside forces like globalization or to technological changes in the workplace. It has much more to do with gaming the system to favor the wealthy with tax benefits and hidden subsidies--money they then use not to create jobs--they didn't invest it in long term growth, nor could they possibly spend it all on consumer goods. Instead, it went into speculation--the bubble economies of the past 15 years. NOT "job creation". The biggest factors in the rise of inequality in this country have to do with 1) the slow destruction of unions--who made the middle class in this country after WW2, 2) the failure of the minimum wage to keep pace with inflation, 3) an immigration policy that effectively flooded the labor market with unskilled, low wage labor, and 4) the rise of big money lobbying by the right to support #s 1,2, and 3 at both state and federal levels. Your revisionist libertarian take on the facts is flat-out wrong--every time.

Disappointing start for a new governor, in my mind. Crafting a budget that relies on something that hasn't even been legalized yet for starters. Then, saying if we don't approve a casino, we'll have to make "difficult" cuts. And the cuts that our "leaders" always chose to make are in places most visible and painful. It's the same at every level of government: Local school districts, "we'll have to cut band and sports"; State government, mental health funding; federal government, TSA funding, air traffic controllers, DHS releasing illegal aliens. Never is there a mention of cuts that wouldn't directly impact the public or, God forbid, they cut their own staff, pay or benefits. I think I'll plan my next home budget based on winning the lottery. Oh, wait, I have to buy a ticket first!

State Government should be cut, it is populated with inefficient, single tasking folks who, through no fault of their own are unproductive for the most part. TSA hires the bottom of the bottom in the employment chain and the supervisors are not much better. Traveling a lot, trust me, they are inefficient and going through the motions. We don't need to cut air traffic controllers, we just need to cut out Obama's vacations. DHS does not have to deport illegal aliens, cuts could be made to the department of education. Cuts that would not directly impact the government, gee, that is about half of the federal budget and White House staffers.

Pray tell us how much money we'll save if we cut out Obama's vacations? Does he take more vacations than previous presidents? Do you have any facts to support your stale and tiresome (not to mention fact-free and troll-like) statement(s)?

when is a cut....... NOT a CUT....when a democrat tells you there are going to be painful cuts all it ACTUALLY means is that there is going to be a reduction in the actual massive increase they already planned on pushing down your throat. Maggie's budget has an ACTUAL 10.2% increase....anything less that that massive increase......... the democrats call it a massive CUT

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