"(Gambling) does create a lot of
revenue, but to me it's a temporary revenue stream because it's an
industry that, if suddenly gambling started in Massachusetts, then a lot
of our patrons who would gamble in New Hampshire if we had it, would
When HB 593, the gambling bill, first appeared, I was ambivalent. It was a "voluntary tax" that would raise considerable money and probably reduce other taxes. This bi-partisan bill also had sponsors from both sides of the aisle. As I read through it, however, I was convinced that the bill that was introduced would be unconstitutional because it offered only two non-bid licenses to special interest out-of-state entities.
Changes were made that increased the casino sites to four. The estimated revenue to be applied to our education trust fund exceeded $350 million and property taxes could be reduced. The business profits tax and the business enterprise tax would both be reduced by an amount that would help with job growth.
I am reminded of New Jersey and Connecticut. Both instituted an income tax to lower their high property taxes. How well did that work out? Property taxes went down for a couple of years but those two states now have the two highest property taxes in the country along with a permanent income tax. If you give government more money, politicians will find a way to spend it.
I decided that the downside of the gambling proposal outweighed the upside of an ephemeral revenue stream and I voted "no". The committee recommendation to pass failed by a vote of 118-226. The subsequent motion of inexpedient to legislate (kill the bill) then passed 236-108, more than two to one.
At the same session, the Speaker decided to bring up a vote to override the governor’s veto of HB 592, the redistricting of the NH House of Representatives. My Democratic colleague from New London wrote last week that there would be "no chance that the veto can be overridden". The veto was overridden in both bodies.
The challenge was to satisfy the U.S. Constitution’s one-man-one-vote requirement and the N.H. Constitution’s requirement that any town with approximately 3192 people should have its own representative.
The U.S. Constitution takes precedent. HB 592 satisfied the federal constitution, falling within the tolerance of +/- 5%. Although New Hampshire’s Constitution could not be fully satisfied, the committee increased the number of individual districts from about 100 to over 200, a huge step toward satisfying the new 2006 provision. There will be court challenges. But the committee is confident that it will be able to defend this plan better than any other plan presented.
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