Letter: Trust and money

Wednesday, December 20, 2017
Trust and money

The other day I heard on NHPR a report on the discrepancy between what New Hampshire receives yearly from the 1998 tobacco settlement agreement and what it spends on tobacco prevention and cessation programs. At first, I was sure I was mistaken because the gap between what the state receives and spends was so great.

Further exploration reveals that in fiscal year 2017, New Hampshire received in tobacco settlement fund payments and taxes more than $260 million. New Hampshire spends $125,000 for tobacco prevention and cessation programs. That puts New Hampshire 47th in the country in this particular area.

Health care costs in New Hampshire directly caused by smoking amount to more than $700 million annually. This number is staggering. I believe the balance of the tobacco settlement money ends up in the General Fund. I think the same can be said about the profits from the Liquor Commission, which is supposed to set aside a small percentage for alcohol treatment.

I wonder how much of the keno profits will end up funding full-day kindergarten.

In short, I believe that for many years our state leadership, Legislature, Executive Council and governor have become addicted to working the system on many fronts to find ways to pay for essential services. This practice promotes cynicism and erodes trust.

Trust is an important part of our democracy. Let us not abuse it.