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My Turn: Casino bill means good jobs, serious revenue

  • Michelle Barone, 45, of Pittsburgh, (center) and her mother, Joan Barone, 64, also from Pittsburgh, play on the slot machines at the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington, Penn. on Tuesday, May 14, 2013.  "If it's real ugly, real quick, we're not here long, but usually we're here three days a week for about eight hours at a time," said Michelle Barone who often sleeps on a couch in the casino. Joan Barone added, "Instead of going to a movie or dinner, we come here to relax - when you're in front of the machine, that's all you have to think about." <br/><br/>Amanda Steen for the Concord Monitor

    Michelle Barone, 45, of Pittsburgh, (center) and her mother, Joan Barone, 64, also from Pittsburgh, play on the slot machines at the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington, Penn. on Tuesday, May 14, 2013. "If it's real ugly, real quick, we're not here long, but usually we're here three days a week for about eight hours at a time," said Michelle Barone who often sleeps on a couch in the casino. Joan Barone added, "Instead of going to a movie or dinner, we come here to relax - when you're in front of the machine, that's all you have to think about."

    Amanda Steen for the Concord Monitor

  • A man walks through rows of slot machines at the Meadow's Racetrack and Casino slot; Tuesday May 14, 2013.<br/><br/>Amanda Steen for the Concord Monitor

    A man walks through rows of slot machines at the Meadow's Racetrack and Casino slot; Tuesday May 14, 2013.

    Amanda Steen for the Concord Monitor

  • A dealer plays a hand of Mini Baccarat with a customer at the Meadow's Racetrack and Casino slot  on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 in Washington, Penn. <br/><br/>Amanda Steen for the Concord Monitor

    A dealer plays a hand of Mini Baccarat with a customer at the Meadow's Racetrack and Casino slot on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 in Washington, Penn.

    Amanda Steen for the Concord Monitor

  •  As president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to legislators and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of th

    As president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to legislators and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of th

  •  As president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to legislators and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of th

    As president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to legislators and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of th

  •  As president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to legislators and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of th

    As president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to legislators and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of th

  •  As president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to legislators and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of th

    As president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to legislators and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of th

  • Michelle Barone, 45, of Pittsburgh, (center) and her mother, Joan Barone, 64, also from Pittsburgh, play on the slot machines at the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington, Penn. on Tuesday, May 14, 2013.  "If it's real ugly, real quick, we're not here long, but usually we're here three days a week for about eight hours at a time," said Michelle Barone who often sleeps on a couch in the casino. Joan Barone added, "Instead of going to a movie or dinner, we come here to relax - when you're in front of the machine, that's all you have to think about." <br/><br/>Amanda Steen for the Concord Monitor
  • A man walks through rows of slot machines at the Meadow's Racetrack and Casino slot; Tuesday May 14, 2013.<br/><br/>Amanda Steen for the Concord Monitor
  • A dealer plays a hand of Mini Baccarat with a customer at the Meadow's Racetrack and Casino slot  on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 in Washington, Penn. <br/><br/>Amanda Steen for the Concord Monitor
  •  As president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to legislators and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of th
  •  As president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to legislators and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of th
  •  As president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to legislators and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of th
  •  As president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to legislators and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of th

As president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to legislators and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Now is the time for our elected leaders to step up to the plate and take real, immediate and concrete steps to create good new jobs for thousands of workers in our state.

The New Hampshire House will soon have the opportunity to do just that. In fact, our legislators will be presented with a bill, HB 1633, that will guarantee the creation of a half-billion-dollar construction project, every penny of which would come from private investment.

HB 1633 would create more than 2,000 jobs for New Hampshire construction workers and more than 1,000 good, permanent jobs. Furthermore, this bill will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in non-tax revenue for the state, allowing us to keep critical programs like education, public safety and infrastructure off the budgetary chopping block. Plus, polls show that a big majority – nearly 60 percent – of Granite Staters favor the approach HB 1633 takes.

HB 1633 would bring expanded casino gaming to New Hampshire. Now, I know some members of our Legislature don’t personally approve of gambling, and that’s their prerogative. But we must come to terms with the fact that we are stuck in a situation where job growth continues to be sluggish and the state budget continually presents our elected officials with extremely difficult choices between cutting programs and finding needed revenue.

The fact is, New Hampshire will be experiencing the downsides of casino gaming whether or not we build a new casino within our borders. Our state already has a $75 million-per-year casino industry under the guise of “charitable gaming,” and there will soon be several casinos just over the border in Massachusetts. Without HB 1633, we’ll leave thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars on the table.

HB 1633 was drafted by a bipartisan, multiagency independent panel known as the Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority as part of last year’s state budget process. In consultation with independent experts, the authority reviewed best practices in the gaming industry across the country to develop a true New Hampshire solution for expanded gaming.

This bill was crafted specifically to address concerns lawmakers had with last year’s gaming bill. As such, HB 1633 includes a comprehensive regulatory structure and robust provisions to ensure that the jobs will go to New Hampshire workers.

Although we have always supported creating good jobs for Granite State workers, the New Hampshire AFL-CIO has never officially endorsed a casino proposal before. Our executive committee recently voted unanimously to fully endorse HB 1633 because we are convinced this bill represents what’s best for New Hampshire’s working families and for our state.

We had questions about whether that was true of previous bills, but our concerns have been addressed in HB 1633.

Creating jobs shouldn’t just be a talking point or a political slogan. Growing our economy and putting people to work should be real, tangible goals for our elected leaders. HB 1633 is the only bill before the New Hampshire Legislature this year that would accomplish those goals, and I urge lawmakers to support it. Together we can help rebuild New Hampshire’s middle class by focusing on creating good jobs for workers in our state. Passing this bill will contribute to that cause.

(Mark S. MacKenzie is president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.)

Legacy Comments1

the only litmus test for the Casinos is if the recreation is good for NH citizens. Trying to sell it by pushing the jobs and more money for bloated Govt is the usual liberal excuse to expand anything. Never do they tell you where the money comes from - it comes off the backs of the people that can NOT afford to lose the money to begin with.

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