To the editor:
On Wednesday, April 30, the town of Salem lost 3,000 jobs. New Hampshire lost up to $168 million in tax revenue. Finally, the state may lose another $75 million in tax revenue each year due to economic activity lost to Massachusetts.
How did this happen? On April 30, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted down SB 366, which would have expanded gaming in our state, specifically at Salem’s Rockingham Park.
There was no stock market crash, no natural disaster. All it took for Salem to lose 3,000 well-paying, steady jobs was for state government to get in the way of what people want -- again.
More than 80 percent of voters in Salem supported expanding gaming in a 2013 municipal referendum -- 80 percent! In today’s political environment, it’s a good day when we can get a majority, let alone 80 percent. Clearly, the people of Salem have spoken -- they want expanded gaming and they want the jobs.
Now, while we believe expanded gaming is the right move for New Hampshire, it’s hard to hold a “no” vote against representatives from towns who have not held referendums specifically on this bill. They didn’t have 80 percent of their constituents tell them to support it.
But Reps. Marilinda Garcia, Bianca Garcia, and Patrick Bick have no excuse. They knew that folks in Salem wanted the jobs and economic growth expanded gaming would bring to the town and to the state; they knew their friends, neighbors and co-workers would benefit from this project; they knew they could be the deciding vote (SB 366 was voted down by a margin of one vote). They knew all this -- and still they voted against the people of Salem’s wishes.
So far, all three representatives have avoided explaining their votes, with Bianca Garcia going so far as to hang up on a reporter to avoid giving an explanation. But they can’t avoid it forever. Someday, someone around town will stop them and say, “I wanted 3,000 new jobs in this town. Why did you turn them down?”
State Rep. Joe Sweeney