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Will Hassan gamble? Has Lynch no influence now?

With Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan expected to outline her state budget goals as early as today, it would be nice to have her start with some straight talk about the need to keep spending down, rather than coming up with more revenue with which to grow government.

What will her biggest supporter, Gov. John Lynch, do if his protege pulls out of her hat the one big-money item that isn't a tax but to which Lynch has been unalterably opposed? That would be casino gambling.

Both Hassan and her election opponent voiced support for casinos during the campaign (even though neither of them has ever set foot in one). This gave Lynch cover to back Hassan as he did, as the issue was moot.

But it is likely to be moot no longer. There are several special interests that want more money, and Hassan promised it to all of them, while still shutting the door to tax increases. That leaves big gambling as the big pot of gold.

Some foes say that it won't pass because the spending groups will fight over who gets the gold. Fat chance.

No, the way to stop casino gambling is for Gov. Lynch to call in his own big marker with the woman he has helped succeed him, and for Republicans in the House and Senate to concentrate on saving, not spending.

Casino gambling is a bad idea for New Hampshire for two big reasons. First, big gambling will throw big money at Concord and will want to call the shots. Second, New Hampshire should not try to compete against big states that can support the big, Las Vegas-style palaces.

New Hampshire should go against the grain on this one. And wouldn't it be nice to see our new governor change her view and just say no?

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