State Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-York City, in his final day before being sworn in as the state's Auditor General, issued a statement about privatization of the Pennsylvania Lottery.
The Auditor General-elect, who will be the first Yorker to hold an elected state office since Gov. George Leader served in the 1950s, said Monday he's glad to see the state's Senate Republicans are holding a public hearing to "finally shed some light on Gov. Tom Corbett's effort to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery."
"But I am surprised that Gov. Corbett took action late on Friday - after many affected employees left for the weekend - to accept a contract with a foreign corporation to run the Lottery before the public hearing," DePasquale said. "The whole point of this hearing is to shed some light on this process and a contract that could tie the hands of legislators and governors - and affect senior programs - for 30 years."
DePasquale, who said Monday he will perform audits to make sure the state's seniors get all the money they're entitled to under the lottery program, said his greatest concern is potentially short-changing seniors.
"The administration has yet to identify how much more it will cost to operate the Lottery under private management, but we know transitioning to private management could cost millions of dollars, not including the costs that have already been incurred on legal, financial and other advisers," he said. "Moving forward, the commonwealth would be paying all the operating expenses for the private, for-profit management firm. These unknown expenses will be taken out of senior programs at a time when more seniors are seeking services."
DePasquale said he's am concerned that the sole bid from a foreign company was reviewed for more than a month and an alternative plan that raised significant substantive issues was given less than three days of review. He said he wants to hear from Lottery manager Todd Rucci about the benefits and downfalls of moving forward with the contract.
"Like many legislators on both sides of the aisle, I question the governor's authority to unilaterally enter such an extensive contract and expand gaming opportunities without legislative input and authorization," he said. "I believe that all the facts should be known before we jump into this deal."
If Corbett goes through with the contract, "I will do everything within my power as Auditor General to shed light on the entire selection process and make sure every penny possible is going to fund senior programs," DePasquale said.