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N.H. still weighing support for casino

CONCORD, N.H. — Governor Maggie Hassan still believes New Hampshire should legalize one highly regulated casino to bring in new state revenue but told lawmakers Tuesday she did not include casino money in her budget because their support is not guaranteed.

‘‘The Legislature has shown some skepticism to it, so I didn’t include it in this budget, but I certainly would be responsive to a constructive dialogue about that,’’ Hassan told members of the House and Senate finance committees Tuesday during a presentation about her budget.

Hassan’s $11.5 billion two-year budget proposal includes new revenue from legalizing Keno, raising the cigarette tax, and increasing car registration fees.


In her 2013 budget, she included $80 million in revenue from a casino but the measure failed in the Legislature.

The House has never approved casino legislation. A two-casino bill, however, came close to passing and will be back before lawmakers this year.

Hassan refused to say Tuesday whether she would sign a bill legalizing two casinos.

Hassan’s budget also includes nearly $1.4 million over two years to pay for a chief operating officer and two staff members, and to establish an ‘‘innovation fund’’ intended to make government more efficient.

The chief operating officer would create standardized procedures for state agencies, such as a uniform way to measure progress, with the goal of streamlining state government and saving taxpayer dollars, budget director Meredith Telus said.

‘‘The possibilities of savings are pretty limitless, actually,’’ she said.

Some Republican lawmakers criticized Hassan, a Democrat, for creating the position, saying she should handle that work herself.

The recommendation for the job came from a report by the governor’s Commission on Innovation, Efficiency, and Transparency in State Government.

Republican Representative Neal Kurk, chairman of the House Finance committee, said he agreed with the recommendations in the report.


‘‘I personally think this is a smart move for the State of New Hampshire,’’ Kurk said.

The House and Senate will each craft their own version of the budget and a plan must be agreed to by June 30.

At a briefing Tuesday, the governor declined to say whether she would veto a budget that does not include money to reauthorize the state’s Medicaid expansion plan in 2017.