PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Gov. Tom Corbett has signed off on a controversial bid by a British company to take over the Pennsylvania Lottery.
And some Democratic legislators are furious.
“I’m very concerned that we’re going to send this to an overseas outfit. There’s only been one bidder. We can do it better here and we have been doing it better here,” says Pa. Rep. Bill Kortz, a Dravosburg Democrat.
“The money they make by privatizing the system is money they take out of senior citizen programs which we can’t afford to do,” added Democrat Pa. Rep. Anthony DeLuca of Penn Hills.
The Governor, using his administrative powers without consulting the legislature, solicited bids to outsource the Lottery.
The only bid came from the British company Camelot, which offered $35 billion for a 20-year lease.
Camelot’s principal stockholder is the Canadian teachers’ pension fund.
“We’re going to turn around and bolster another country’s pension fund program for their teachers, and we’re maybe going to look to cut back or trim our teachers here,” said Pa. Sen. Tim Solobay, a Canonsburg Democrat.
“We have the best run lottery in the country. We have set record profits last year. Where they have privatized the lottery in Illinois, it has been a disaster. So you have to ask yourself, ‘Why are we doing this?’” questioned House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody of Oakmont.
Democrats suggest that consultants stand to make millions in fees, money that should be used for senior citizens.
“I think seniors should be worried about this privatization scheme, and that’s what it is. It really is a scheme that will put their benefits at direct and significant risk,” noted Pa. Sen. Matt Smith, a Mt. Lebanon Democrat.
And if legislators can’t stop this, Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa of Forest Hills says, “This matter will ultimately be decided in the courts.”
Just after the Governor’s action late Friday, Costa said, “The whole process stinks with no public transparency or scrutiny.”
Corbett rushed this deal, he claimed, before the Senate Finance Committee could hold its hearing on Monday and before the state’s new Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, was sworn in on Tuesday.
The AG must sign off on the deal.
State Treasurer Rob McCord has already raised questions about the legality of Corbett’s action.
With lawsuits likely, the Governor’s action late Friday is hardly a done deal.