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Between ‘The Rock’ and a hard place

There are times in the legislature that I feel set up. A week ago there was a school group from Derry. They had proposed a bill to make the potato the state vegetable. They claim to have the first potato fields in America in Derry. They had already had communication with the schoolchildren from Derry, Ireland. As part of their history curriculum they had made these contacts and written this bill. On the day the bill came to the floor, all of this came into play with these school children in the gallery, watching.

Now, I know that the potato is not considered a green vegetable. It does not fill the “vegetable” section of my dinner plate. What was the body to do? The bill passed and the potato is on the way to becoming the state “vegetable”.

On the next day, Gov. Maggie Hassan laid out her budget. The budget contains many remedies for drastic cuts that were made in the last session. There will be money for our local schools, for Children in Need of Services, for eliminating the waiting list for our adult mentally ill, for hospitals to cover the uninsured and much more. Until this budget is passed by both houses and money is found to finance it, it is just a “wish list.”There is much on this “wish list” that we as a people would want to do. Here is the set up; a significant portion of the funding will come from licensing expanded gambling.

The governor’s budget is predicated on passage of a gambling bill to allow one “High End “casino to be located near our border with Massachusetts, possibly at Rockingham Park. The estimated revenue from the licensing fees would be $80 million.

I am not against all forms of gambling. I don’t gamble much. I taught at Salem High School back when “The Rock” was in full swing. I have seen some of the social conflict that swirls around such an operation. What I find most unfortunate is that many of the things we want to accomplish for our citizens depend on revenues of this sort. In fact, without this revenue the legislature may have to cut deeper than the last session.

A gambling bill has passed the Senate committee. The full Senate is said to favor it. We know where the governor is on this subject. The House will get this bill and we will make the decision. I will do all I can to help those who were shortchanged in the last budget. Just don’t ask me to like the choices.

Potatoes anyone?

Rep. Jon Manley, a Democrat, represents Hillsborough District 3, which includes Bennington, Greenfield, Hancock.

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