Blake Says Lottery Can Improve and Succeed Under Existing Management

HARRISBURG, February 26, 2013 — State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe), Democratic Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, today questioned the merits of privatizing management of the state’s 41-year-old Lottery.

“It is clear from today’s Appropriations Committee hearing that the administration believes that handing management of the Pennsylvania Lottery to Camelot Global Services is the best way to raise funds for seniors’ programs,” Blake said. “I disagree.”

Senator Blake questioning Revenue Department Secretary Dan Meuser at today’s budget hearing in Harrisburg.

Senator Blake questions Revenue Department Secretary Dan Meuser at today’s budget hearing in Harrisburg.

“We should leverage this already well-performing $4 billion asset and its effective and productive American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) workforce and, as necessary and appropriate, engage outside professional support to drive growth in our lottery proceeds. We should properly legislate managerial flexibility for our Lottery similar to what was considered under the Private Management Agreement (PMA) with respect to lottery revenue and marketing enhancements.”

Blake noted that the Lottery has been a continuous success story over the past four decades. Speaking at today’s budget hearing, Blake said there is significant bipartisan agreement on numerous Lottery management and performance goals. He said senators mutually agree that there is a need for increased funding for seniors’ programs.

He added that most senators agree that the Corbett Administration’s privatization proposal should have been better vetted and more strategically planned. He said there should have been greater public input and greater interaction between the executive and legislative branches. As a result of the manner in which the administration pursued privatization, Blake said the Lottery Fund will now have to absorb the legal and consulting fees that could have been avoided.

Blake said that based on documents provided by Attorney General Kathleen Kane and her recent testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Attorney General ’s recent nullification of the PMA was well founded, well defended and legally substantiated.

“In making future improvements to the Lottery, I hope the governor will proceed more cooperatively, openly and transparently and further engage the General Assembly in a solution that works for our seniors,” Blake said.

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EDITOR’s NOTE: Attached is a JPG photo of Senator Blake questioning Revenue Department Secretary Dan Meuser at today’s budget hearing in Harrisburg.

Costa, Blake to Gov: Let Lottery Implement AFSCME Approach to Raise Profit

Harrisburg, February 11, 2013 – State Sens. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) and John Blake (D- Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) said that instead of outsourcing the Pennsylvania Lottery’s operations to a U.K. company, Camelot Global Services, the governor should allow the Lottery to implement AFSCME’s recommendations to raise new revenue.

“Instead of privatizing the management of the Pennsylvania Lottery, the governor should instruct the Lottery to move on many of the recommendations made in the AFSCME report so that hundreds of millions in new revenue can be generated,” Costa, the Senate Democratic Leader, said. “If current Lottery employees were given the latitude that is called for in the PMA with Camelot, they would clearly equal or exceed the revenue projections of the proposed contractor.”

“Instead of privatizing lottery operations without the consultation of lawmakers, we should be using our current, dedicated and capable Pennsylvania employees to grow the Lottery and generate more revenue to aid our seniors,” Blake said.

Blake, who serves as the Democratic Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said that it would make more sense to build on the strengths of a successful system and a successful Lottery workforce rather than turning the entire operation over to a private, for-profit enterprise.

“I see no reason why we need to privatize the Lottery using a foreign concern when we can implement many of the recommendations made in the AFSCME report to boost revenue,” Blake said. “The governor should reconsider the decision on outright privatization and instead build on our successful system by expanding its discretion and simply augmenting its operations with any needed outside marketing or managerial experience.”

The recommendations made by AFSCME were contained in a counterproposal that the union generated following the governor’s decision to privatize the Lottery using a Private Management Agreement (PMA). AFSCME indicated that it could generate $1.5 billion more in lottery profit.

A recent Franklin and Marshall survey indicated sixty-four percent of registered voters who were asked oppose privatization of the Pa Lottery.

“The AFSCME proposal contains recommendations that will boost revenue, institute more internal controls and provide for greater accountability. We need to give our Lottery and our workers a chance to create more revenue and expand before we send the management of our system overseas,” Costa said.

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Blake: Lottery Privatization Decision Mishandled by Administration

HARRISBURG, January 14, 2013 – – State Sen. John Blake, Democratic Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, released the following statement regarding the announcement that Gov. Corbett has issued notice to accept a bid to privatize the operations of the Pennsylvania State Lottery system:

“It is difficult day for Pennsylvania workers, small businesses and taxpayers and it is a particularly disconcerting day for Pennsylvania’s senior citizens – many whose livelihoods rely upon programs funded through the proceeds of the Pennsylvania State Lottery.  The privatization of operations for our nationally-renowned and profitable lottery system is disappointing for many reasons but perhaps none more so than the fact that it is being undertaken unilaterally by Governor Corbett without proper consultation with the Pennsylvania General Assembly that represents the same people who this Governor was elected to serve.”

“Notwithstanding the administration’s decision to proceed with the award of a Private Management Agreement (PMA) with Camelot, I join with my colleagues in the Senate Democratic Caucus and with AFSCME in demanding a proper legal accounting in court as to the constitutional authority and the unilateral discretion being exercised by the Corbett administration in this matter.”

“I commend Senator Mike Brubaker for his leadership and his diligent efforts to allow the General Assembly to weigh in on this decision – which is of great consequence to our senior citizens across the state.  The dialogue in today’s Senate Finance Committee hearing will at least answer some of the many questions surrounding the procurement process for this PMA; the terms and conditions of the contract to be awarded to Camelot by Governor Corbett; the impact of this action on state workers; the legality of this expansion of gaming in this state; and, most importantly, the future security of the essential programs that serve our senior citizens — including local senior centers, transportation assistance as well as the property tax and rent rebate programs.

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