Plans to lease the operations of the Pennsylvania Lottery to a private company have been greeted with rebukes from Democrats and a lawsuit.
Amid a swirl of criticism suggesting plans to privatize the Lottery have been secretive, state Secretary of Aging Brian Duke is defending the process and the pending deal itself.
His department receives funds from the Lottery’s proceeds.
And, says, Duke, it’s reasonable to search for opportunities to increase profits through privatization.
“This comparative analysis we’re doing between the Lottery and a bidder who has submitted a bid, Camelot, is to find out what is the best way to make sure that that income is predictable and it is enhanced so that we can meet need,” Duke said Wednesday.
A spokeswoman with the Department of Revenue says the administration is in talks to extend the deadline of the bid on the Lottery past Dec. 31.
It can be postponed if both the commonwealth and the private company submitting a bid agree.
The Lottery funds almost 70 percent of the Department of Aging’s budget.
That funding will become more important as the commonwealth’s elderly population is on the rise — expected to double by 2030.
With that increase in mind, state officials are focusing on ways to help seniors stay in their homes and communities. It’s a key goal of a four-year plan on aging — recently approved by the federal government as a sound plan for spending federal dollars.
Duke says allowing seniors to stay in their own home starts with specific services.
“Home delivered meals, congregate meals, senior community centers, almost 600 of those across the commonwealth where people can go to be engaged and supported,” he said. “Supportive services in the community, adult day care, protective services to protect our most vulnerable citizens from abuse, neglect, exploitation or abandonment.”
Beyond the bedside, Duke says his agency partners with health-care providers and other groups to make preventive care and other services for the elderly more available.
Pennsylvania’s 60-or-older population is at about 2.7 million, but Duke says the fastest growing segment of the population consists of those 85 or older.