Republican Gov. Tom Corbett was thinking about Pennsylvania's 2.7 million senior citizens when he engaged the highly regarded and very effective company that operates the United Kingdom National Lottery, Camelot Global Services, to operate the Pennsylvania Lottery.
Proceeds of the Pennsylvania Lottery benefit senior citizens of our state. By 2030 there will be 3.6 million state residents age 60 or older. That's a huge increase of 33 percent.
To Gov. Corbett's credit, Camelot committed to generate profits of at least $34.6 billion over the next 20 years for Pennsylvania's seniors. This is $3 billion to $4.5 billion more than projected by the government-run lottery over that same period.
In addition, Camelot committed to making a $50 million, up-front payment. The governor would use this pre-payment immediately to end the waiting list for services that help elderly Pennsylvanians take advantage of home care.
Some 230 people are employed by the Pennsylvania Lottery. AFSCME Local 13 represents most of them. Union officials oppose the governor's initiative.
That's no surprise. AFSCME Local 13 stands to lose a lot of dues money. Union officials themselves could lose political power, possibly even their own jobs, if lottery employees leave the state payroll and become employees of a private company.
The bosses of AFSCME Local 13 are not alone in their opposition. Newly elected Democratic state Attorney General Kathleen Kane made clear at a recent news conference, at which she refused to take questions from the news media, that she also does not like the governor's initiative.
In Ms. Kane's case, it's not as easy to understand why she asked the Corbett administration to withdraw the contract with Camelot. She alleged three legal defects, but it's been known to happen in politics that a state official of one party throws road blocks in front of an official of the other party in order to prevent the adversary from getting credit for doing well. I hope this is not the motive of the attorney general.
Ms. Kane's actions become suspect, however, in light of the extraordinary contributions (totaling $30,000) made by AFSCME Local 13 to Ms. Kane's election campaign. That makes this one local union with a relatively small membership one of her biggest campaign contributors. And that $30,000 in contributions is all the more surprising because Ms. Kane seemed proud of largely funding her primary campaign with family resources.
We know Gov. Corbett is looking out for Pennsylvania's 2.7 million seniors and the 900,000 others who will reach age 60 by 2030. The question that needs to be answered is: Who is Kathleen Kane looking out for? Could it be a few hundred members of AFSCME Local 13?
I hope that is not the case. Perhaps someone in the news media should ask her. If, of course, she is taking any questions.
Jim Roddey, a former Allegheny County chief executive, is chairman of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County.