The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 13, 2013

Barbin urges AG to reject lottery deal

John Finnerty
CNHI News Service

HARRISBURG — A Democratic lawmaker who worked in the attorney general’s office under Republican LeRoy Zimmerman said current Attorney General Kathleen Kane has the legal justification to reject a proposed deal to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery.

Rep. Bryan Barbin, D-Johnstown, said the flaws with the lottery deal are so serious that Kane would be justified in rejecting it.

The strongest justification would be that the deal calls for expanding computerized gaming, even though any effort to do that must be approved by the Legislature, Barbin said.

“A new source of gaming revenue must be approved by the Legislature,” Barbin said.

Barbin was a deputy attorney general in the tax and finance section of the attorney general’s office before moving to Johnstown and entering private practice.

Gov. Tom Corbett has defended the lottery privatization plan, saying it is needed to find a way to generate more revenue for senior programs as more Pennsylvanians hit retirement age. Camelot Global Services has promised to pay the state $34 billion over 20 years in exchange for the right to operate the lottery.

Corbett, a Republican, stressed that the Democratic attorney general must stick to the law when considering the deal. He said Tuesday that Kane cannot reject the measure just because she doesn’t like it or for political reasons.

Corbett, who was attorney general before he was elected governor, said there were cases when his office had suggested changes to contracts to ensure their legality.

But Corbett said he could not recall a single incident in which the attorney general’s office refused to approve a contract.

If it is approved, privatization would generate an additional $50 million for senior programs in 2013-14, according to the governor’s budget.

Kane has until Saturday to announce whether she will approve the deal.

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