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March 23, 2013

New challenge for lotto action: Aging chief plans to budget $50M

HARRISBURG — Even though Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has ruled that Governor Tom Corbett's bid to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery is illegal, the state aging secretary said that his agency is still planning like it is going to have another $50 million to spend in 2013-14.

Corbett has ordered the Department of Revenue to revise the proposed contract with Camelot Global Services in an attempt to satisfy the objections identified by Kane. In the meantime, Camelot’s bid has been extended until June 30 while those revisions are made.

Aging Secretary Brian Duke said that the uncertainty is making it difficult to develop a working budget, but for the time being, his agency is still working like it will have the additional money.

Duke spelled out the state's four-year "aging plan" recently during a joint session of the House Aging and Older Adult Service and Senate Aging and Youth committee.

With Pennsylvania already among the grayest states in the nation and only getting grayer, the state needs to find a way to meet the increase demand for services for senior citizens, Duke said.

Duke noted that Pennsylvania already has the fourth highest number of senior citizens and the number of seniors in the state is expected to increase dramatically over the next 20 years.  By 2030, almost 1-in-4 Pennsylvanians will be over the age of 65.

In addition to the upfront $50 million provided by Camelot, the governor’s office has projected that the privatization deal would generate between $460 million and $530 million over the next years and more than $3 billion over 20 years.

The aging department has proposed to use the Lottery funds to help reduce a waiting list for home-based services and to help investigate and respond to allegations of abuse and exploitation targeting seniors. The aging department said that more than 5,300 senior citizens are waiting for the state to find money to help them receive support and personal care services so they can remain in their homes.

Duke said the uncertainty should not directly impact the state’s 32-page aging plan, which focuses on broad policy goals. Whether or not the aging department has additional revenue will only affect the number of people the agency is able to help, Duke said. “If we are able to get $50 million more, we would be able to help that many more people,” Duke said.

Existing lottery sales already pump $1 billion a year into programs for seniors including funds to subsidize fares for bus rides, to help fund senior centers and property tax rebates.

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