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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Camelot Awarded Lottery Contract

The Corbett Administration has awarded a contract to British company Camelot Global Services to take over management of the Pennsylvania Lottery.

The deal pledges $34 billion in profits to the state over the next 20 years. Pennsylvania currently has one of the country’s largest lotteries with $3.5 billion in sales last year.

But challenges to the plan are not over.

State Treasurer Rob McCord and the labor union representing state lottery employees say Camelot is banking on an expansion of gambling they contend is not currently allowed by state law. McCord has threatened not to pay Camelot until he is satisfied that its plans to expand gambling are legal, and the union, Council 13 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, has sued to block the contract.

Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa said in a news release, “This is extremely disappointing and disturbing. The action taken by the Corbett Administration was done without public input. (Friday's) decision has the potential to jeopardize senior programs and put taxpayers on the hook.”

“This has been a bizarre process that violates the public trust,” Costa continued. “There were no hearings, little opportunity to understand the proposed PMA and no scrutiny. The process was violated and the citizens of Pennsylvania were abused by this arbitrary action.”

Senator John Blake (D- Lackawanna), Democratic Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee pointed out the proposal needs legislative authorization and it demands legislative scrutiny.

“The process was culminated when the General Assembly was not in session and there was little public examination of the proposal,” Blake said. “This process wasn't transparent -- it was opaque. No one could see the end result except a small group of the governor's inner circle.”

Expressing extreme disappointment on behalf of his constituents, Senator Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin) said the use of a secretive process would lead to the privatization of a significant state asset and is unprecedented. “This is not a proper way to alter generations of public policy and violated the public trust.”

“On a personal level, many of the affected employees are my constituents and have been treated with complete disregard,” Teplitz said. “The arrogance of this administration in the way this was handled is deplorable.”

“I am extremely disappointed in this administration's decision to jam this deal through at the last minute prior to a key Senate Finance Committee hearing,” said Senator Matt Smith (D-Allegheny). “This shows a disturbing lack of transparency by the Corbett administration and hinders a meaningful dialogue regarding this multi-billion dollar deal. The Camelot plan certainly deserves a proper examination by the General Assembly and Pennsylvania taxpayers are entitled to further information.”

Senator John Wozniak (D-Cambria) echoed the sentiments of his colleagues related to the PMA. “There are many questions related to how this privatization effort impacts seniors and property tax relief related to gaming. The concerns of taxpayers should have been taken into consideration and questions answered before the governor took this action.”

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