Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced yesterday that her office was rejecting a proposal from Gov. Tom Corbett to privatize the state lottery. It’s very, very good news, and here’s why.
Gov. Corbett loves to privatize things. Liquor stores, education funding…if you can cut something from the public sector and replace it with less effective, less accountable privately-run alternative, Gov. Corbett will be on the scene.
His latest attempt is to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery. Currently the lottery is staffed by union workers from AFSCME Local 13; they get paid a decent wage and are accountable to the taxpayers. Lottery revenue is also currently used for programs that help Pennsylvania seniors.
Gov. Corbett isn’t a fan of any of that, and instead wants to hand over management of the lottery to a British corporation called Camelot Global Services PA LLC “for the next 20 to 30 years.”
Who is Camelot? They run the National Lottery in the United Kingdom, where they’ve been under fire for setting aside $8 million for executive bonuses. Camelot also doubled the price of their lottery tickets, saying the executive bonuses were completely unrelated. Oh, and get this: their “Pennsylvania” branch isn’t even technically in Pennsylvania – it’s in Delaware, where hundreds of PA corporations park themselves so they can pay a lower tax rate.
So here’s a summary of Gov. Corbett’s proposal: Get rid of the publicly-run lottery that provides for the livelihoods of union workers and uses its revenue to help Pennsylvania seniors; Use taxpayer money instead to pay a British corporation to run the lottery; Watch as that money is used to pad executive bonuses; Oh, and even though Pennsylvania taxpayers are forking over their hard-earned wages to this corporation, they can’t be bothered to pay taxes in Pennsylvania – but there’s nothing to be done about it, because freedom. And don’t worry, it’s only for 20 or 30 years.
All that said: it is very, very good news that AG Kane rejected the proposal. She did so not because it’s terrible idea, but because it’s against the law. Kane says Corbett overstepped his constitutional authority, and also criticized him for claiming that seniors would be taken care of under the deal:
Kane also took a shot at the Corbett administration for applying pressure to get her to sign off on the contract by promising $50 million more for home- and community-based services for older Pennsylvanians in his 2013-14 state budget if the contract with Camelot was executed.
“Promising money to people in need based on a contract that is not legal and then blaming those entrusted to do their job correctly is both disingenuous and a perfect example of putting the cart before the horse,” she said.
While this is great news, it’s ridiculous that a scheme so transparently unfair to taxpayer got this far in the first place. Send a message to Gov. Corbett to give up on this lottery privatization boondoggle.