Casinos would bring needed jobs to N.H. families
There seems to be an endless debate in politics about whether government creates jobs. One thing is undeniable: Government certainly can get in the way of job creation by passing bad policy or inaction.One dose of good policy that would generate much positive action comes with House Bill 589, which would make casino gaming legal in New Hampshire and allow two casinos to the Granite State.A limited expansion of gaming in New Hampshire would bring thousands of jobs, millions in economic development and would bring more people into New Hampshire to spend their money here.Massachusetts made casino gaming legal just a few weeks ago. In doing so, thousands of jobs were created for Bay State men and women at a time when they are desperately needed.In just a few weeks, the New Hampshire Legislature will discuss legalizing casino gaming here. Will they let this opportunity slip us by?Devastated by the endless recession before us, the New Hampshire construction industry needs a catalyst like a limited expansion of gaming.According to New Hampshire Department of Employment Security, in July 2004 the state’s construction industry employed 31,800 people. As recently as February 2011, 17,100 construction workers were employed throughout the state — a loss of 14,700, or roughly 45 percent.Just a couple of decades ago, the young men and women of New Hampshire looked at the construction industry as a viable career choice upon leaving high school. These opportunities have all dried up as the economy has savaged private sector opportunities in New Hampshire.These kids are not looking to our state government for a bailout or even a handout. They are looking for a helping hand — a boost to provide more employment and to ensure a chance to get a hard day’s work and a decent wage.Right now, private industry is looking to invest in New Hampshire. At a facility like Rockingham Park alone, it would be nearly $500 million.That’s the type of investment we need in New Hampshire, the type that will create thousands of jobs and opportunities.Our families are seeking the one true answer to many of the problems that face most of our families today — ensuring one good job in every household to help pay the bills, put food on the table, provide care for loved ones and set a pathway to retire with dignity.Unfortunately, Governor Lynch recently vowed to veto any gaming legislation that hits his desk, but I implore the New Hampshire Legislature to move ahead with this legislation and give the working class a chance at the New Hampshire advantage that is often talked about.I can certainly respect the differences people may have in this debate and totally support our state government having an important role in regulating, limiting and monitoring of the expansion of gaming in New Hampshire. But the time is now to act, and if we do not seize it, our leaders will look back on this opportunity with regret — and will need to look at our working class and explain why thousands of jobs that can be such a positive catalyst for our working families were passed by once again.Joe Casey is president of the New Hampshire State Building & Construction Trades Council.