If privatizing the Pennsylvania Lottery's management isn't the answer to ensuring reliable and predictable funding for programs for older Pennsylvanians, what is?
That's the question that a spokesman for Gov. Tom Corbett raised in responding to state Treasurer Rob McCord call on Monday to pull the plug on the administration's lottery private management agreement (PMA) pursuit.
"Our need is outpacing our ability to fund those programs," said Corbett press secretary Jay Pagni. "The PMA is a vehicle that can assure our ability to meet the continued growth of the programs as well as grow the lottery.
"That's why we've embarked upon it and it's unfortunate Mr. McCord is putting politics before programs for older Pennsylvanians," Pagni added.
McCord, at a news conference in Philadelphia, pointed to the $3.4 million that has been paid out of the Lottery Fund to date to cover fees charged by consultants assisting the Corbett Administration in its exploration of this outsourcing and called it wasted money that could have gone to fund senior programs.
He urged Corbett "to put this failed and costly experiment to an end."
Corbett signed a proposed agreement with United Kingdom-based Camelot Global Services in January to take over the state lottery's management. But Attorney General Kathleen Kane rejected the deal, citing constitutional and other objections.
Since then, the administration has been seeking extensions to Camelot's bid to keep it alive as it works with its legal consultant, DLA Piper, in trying to overcome the issues related to the contract that drew Kane's rejection.
The latest extension expires on Tuesday, Pagni said look for an announcement on Tuesday about the administration's next move.
Camelot, which was the lone company to submit a bid on this outsourcing, is promising to generate $34.6 billion in profits over the next 20 years.
That promise is backed up by a $200 million fund to cover any shortfall if it fails to meet annual profit commitments although critics of the deal cite concerns about how ironclad that commitment is.
PennLive reported earlier on Monday, the fees associated with this privatization exploration are now able to climb as high as $4.3 million under revisions made to the contract with DLA Piper.
Contrary to McCord's painting that spending as a waste, Pagni called it a wise and valuable investment of resources.
"The money spent on this is an investment in long-term returns for the lottery program," Pagni said. "We received information, ideas, best practices from organizations that have provided consultation for national lotteries and international lotteries across the world. Most assuredly, we will benefit from this process."
Meanwhile, the in-house operation of the lottery has continued its winning ways, revenue-wise.
For the first quarter of the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, ticket sales topped $936.6 million, according to information from the state Department of Revenue, which oversees the lottery. That is more than 7 percent above the ticket sales for the same three-month period last year when the lottery went on to end the year with a record-high $3.69 billion in ticket sales.