Cornerstone Calls for Budget to be Based on Sound Revenue

OP-ED Regarding Revenue and the NH Budget

Op/Ed by Ashley Pratte, Executive Director of Cornerstone

Conservatives were kicked in the knees by November’s election results, and now we are facing legislation that should strike fear in the hearts of those who believe in life, families, and free markets.   

The first battle we will face is over expanded gambling here in the Granite State.  New Hampshire is known for its tourism and hospitality and all of its natural
beauty from the White Mountain to the Great Lakes to the Seacoast. This healthy, family-friendly image and New Hampshire’s well-earned reputation for being a great state to raise a family are now at risk.

As the Executive Director of Cornerstone Policy Research, I ardently defend the legislature’s desire to balance our state’s budget and recognize that this is a budget year for the New Hampshire Legislature. But it is imperative that we seek to balance our budget through cutting spending and not through morally questionable activities that will actually cost us more money in the long run. 

In order to avoid difficult budget choices, some legislators are backing bills to rush through approval of expanding gambling and believe that they will receive revenue from licensing from one or more casinos.  It is unrealistic to expect that a casino will be built in time for revenue to arrive in 2014. These same legislators are also factoring this license revenue into the FY 2014 budget, knowing that this
is not realistic. This desperate move would be a grave error – even for those who want casinos here – because this license revenue would not become available until late 2015 at the earliest. For those concerned about keeping New Hampshire family-friendly, all angles of building a casino here in the Granite State need to be researched and not be rushed to put a temporary band-aid on our budget. 

It is important to note that other states have grappled with the issue of expanded gambling. States such as Arizona have accepted the arguments of out-of-state
gambling interests, believing that new casinos lead to higher revenue and lower
taxes.  They soon came to realize that quite the opposite is true and that gambling ultimately leads to expanded taxes, increased crime rate, and broken families. 

Studies and research have shown that gambling often hurts, not helps, existing businesses by siphoning away discretionary dollars that might otherwise have been spent at local shops, which are at the heart of our economy here in New Hampshire.  Also, the economic costs associated with gambling such as losses due to crime, additional law enforcement costs, as well as gambling addiction treatment costs are staggering, often far exceeding a state or community’s total revenue from gambling.

So the question becomes, is building a casino here in New Hampshire really an idea that stems from innovation or is it more an act of desperation in a search to find new revenue opportunities?  Responsible governing is critical and making rash decisions that could have a lasting impact on our state would be harmful to Granite Staters.

Cornerstone-Action and Cornerstone Policy Research are non-partisan, non-profit organizations dedicated to preserving New Hampshire’s traditional values, limited government, and free markets through education, information and advocacy. Our vision is to create an environment in which strong families—the foundation of our
society—can lead New Hampshire into a new era of prosperity and strength. For
more information, please visit nhcornerstone.org.

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Ray Guarino January 16, 2013 at 11:51 PM
I respectfully disagree. Cornerstone is supposed to be "pro-family", but already conservatives have cut the state budget to the bone. They cut state college funding in half. That hurt families as Moms and Dads, as well as students have seen college debt grow substantially. NH has the highest in-state college tuition in the country. The state has no stomache for a broad based tax, yet there are substantial needs for NH families including Medicaid and education. We need to do something such as gambling. These are pro-family issues that Cornerstone, if they really are pro-family, should be behind. Instead of cuts, we need more state funding that benefits families.
Brian Hayek January 17, 2013 at 02:19 AM
I disagree with both the comment and the author. "Morally questionable activities" are something that the government cannot dictate; free individuals should be able to peacefully associate with any group they wish. Additionally, that means that commerce that's has mutual consent is no business of anyone else outside the parties involved. However, spending IS the area to cut. However, directed spending cuts that would have a direct correlation with economic growth involves law enforcement and corrections; We don't need people in prison if they have not committed an act of aggression. Thus, the logical answer is to stop spending any law enforcement resources directed towards crimes of 'possession' or consenting commerce as long as both adult parties consent. I just estimated the numbers here: 120,000,000 on the department of corrections can be reduced to 55,000,000 in two years. Then cut the excess law enforcement overhead cost, voila.
One Man Wolf Pack January 18, 2013 at 02:15 PM
Congratulations Cornerstone; I am a right of center voter who will be watching who you endorse as a candidate and specifically NOT vote for that candidate. I whole heartily support putting a casino in NH, starting at the Rockingham Race Track.


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