Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Rep. Roger Wells: State has little choice but to find new revenue - We Say B.S.

The following tasty morsel appeared in the Union Leader.

As always be sure to read the comments you can always spot the tax eaters. Only a whacked out educrat could coin the phrase Slots for Tots.

Anyone looking for pawn shops, prostitutes, payday businesses and increased crime will have no problem finding them near any new casino.

Mr. Wells do us all a favor don't pretend to be a Republican switch to the Democratic party.


Want to know where to cut spending? How about all of this "Educational Adequacy" nonsense whose spending spree is only just beginning?

The NH Constitution does not authorize the state to spend one dime on education. Nor does it permit the Supreme Court to order the Legislature to spend money or pass laws.

Leave education to the towns as has been working so well for decades. Sure, a complete elimination of state education spending might raise property taxes, but it would lower state taxes even more.

Besides wasting our money, what does government do well? Not much. Why squander limited resources on inefficient state programs?
- Jim Peschke

Rep. Roger Wells: State has little choice but to find new revenue

Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009

Now that we are starting the new year and a new legislative session, it is time to make some choices as to where our state is heading financially. While we are looking at as much as a $500 million deficit, are we willing to see our property taxes skyrocket further? Are we willing to finally accept an income or sales tax? Are we willing to look at expanded gambling as a solution?

After a 16-month study by a subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, the full committee voted to recommend the introduction of future legislation for the use of video lottery terminals. Though the 9-8 vote was close, had all members been present the outcome would have been three votes more for the majority opinion. In other words, after hearing the information presented, the vote would have been 12-8 for opening a serious debate on whether gambling should be considered as a revenue source for our state.

While gambling is an easy target for some well-intentioned people, the facts do not support the perceived evils. The bill that was studied would have provided $5 million for treatment programs for addictive behavior, including treatment not only for gambling problems but also for drug, tobacco and alcohol addiction. The committee learned that many of these problems are co-occurring; that is, those who are likely to have a problem with one type of abuse are also vulnerable to gambling.

While it is obvious that many New Hampshire citizens already struggle with addiction problems, the services needed to treat such problems are woefully underfunded. Unfortunately, these people, many of whom already have gambling problems, will continue to be underserved until the state finds the revenue sources to fill this gap. The current budget crisis only deepens the hole.

The committee found that the incidence of pathological gambling problems ranged between 1 to 2 percent, far lower than addiction rates for alcohol and tobacco. Information provided by Dr. Clyde Barrow from the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts showed that most people who gamble at casinos or racinos do so responsibly as a form of entertainment. By contrast, those who play the lottery or buy scratch tickets forego the entertainment component (how long does it take to scratch a ticket?) and make their purchase solely with the unlikely chance of coming out of the gas station or variety store with more money than they had when they went in.

The many polls taken in New Hampshire consistently show that the public favors this as a revenue source by numbers between 70 to 80 percent.

The data also showed that "social costs" of casino gambling were much lower than perceived by opponents. Our state is experiencing significant "social costs" right now as property tax increases squeeze a growing number of people out of their homes.

Based on data from states with similar programs, the revenue New Hampshire would realize was estimated at $250 million to $319 million per year. If most of that state revenue were directed to education funding, local property taxes in most towns could be reduced significantly, by about one third.

The report also showed that if the casinos were located at the racetracks in Salem, Hampton, Loudon and Hinsdale, approximately 80 percent of the revenue produced would come from out-of-state residents within a 100-mile radius.

The outspoken opponents of gambling often talk of corruption that may be associated with gambling. Most often the corruption is the vast amount of money sent by gambling interests from surrounding states to politicians in the states considering gambling. The speaker of the house in Massachusetts is a prime example. He has received money from gambling interests and has single-handedly blocked legislation from going to the floor.

Soon the Legislature and the citizens will be faced with a choice: Cut many of our existing services or look for new revenue. The only choices are to increase property taxes, institute an income tax or sales tax, or introduce expanded legal gambling at those facilities where gambling already exists and maybe consider other possible locations.

My property tax this year will represent approximately 30 percent of my total income. I cannot afford to continue to live in the state without relief. I am not alone in this situation.

The choices are increasing the property tax or instituting an income tax, a sales tax or gambling. "None of the above" is not one of the choices.

Rep. Roger G. Wells, R-H

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