AARP Pennsylvania Advocacy Director Ray Landis today told a State Senate Panel that the Corbett Administration’s investigation into privatizing the operations of the state lottery must ensure predictable revenue streams and generate new resources for long-neglected home and community-based services programs serving older adults.
In testimony today before the State Senate Finance Committee, Landis told lawmakers that privatizing the lottery would represent a fundamental change in the funding source for many programs designed to help older Pennsylvanians stay at home and in their communities. He added that any adjustments to the state lottery must maximize revenues available to existing programs that provide essential assistance to older adults statewide while minimizing the risk of future funding shortfalls.
“We’ve said all along that the Corbett Administration’s investigation into privatizing the operations of the Pennsylvania Lottery must result in a system that increases revenues and provides new funding for existing programs specifically created to help older adults remain at home,” said Landis. “At the same time, we have called for an investigative process that emphasizes transparency so older Pennsylvanians have no doubt about the future scope and availability of lottery-funded programs.”
Landis told committee members that the state’s growing population of older Pennsylvanians and their strong desire to remain at home for as long as possible makes it important to increase funding for existing lottery programs that have developed significant waiting lists for services in communities statewide.
"Throughout the process, Administration officials have indicated they expect lottery revenues to increase should the private management agreement be approved, and the AFSCME proposal announced last week also anticipates higher revenues,” he said. “AARP applauds Governor Corbett’s pledge to use increased revenues to expand underfunded programs that help older Pennsylvanians remain at home and in the community.”
Pennsylvania currently operates the nation’s sixth largest lottery. According to last year’s Legislative Budget and Finance Committee Report on the Pennsylvania Lottery, annual sales rose from slightly less than $2 billion in 2001-02 to a record $3.4 billion in 2011-12—a mark that is expected to be surpassed again this year.
Despite the record sales, recent changes to the allocation of lottery revenues have resulted in cutbacks in services such as home delivered meals, reductions of hours at Senior Centers and fewer transportation options for older Pennsylvanians. Landis said Pennsylvania is using lottery funding as a crutch to address runaway costs of nursing home care in the state Medicaid program.
“In the 2012-13 budget alone, a record $309 million was shifted from lottery revenues to the Medicaid nursing home budget,” he said. “In fact over the last five years, more than a billion dollars have been diverted from the Lottery Fund to the Medicaid program, while the budget for other lottery-funded programs remained stagnant.”
Landis said the impact of any decision on privatization will be greatly diminished if the Lottery Fund is not first used to support and expand existing programs that help older Pennsylvanians stay at home and in their community.
“AARP believes Medicaid nursing home expenses should return to the General Fund so the Lottery Fund can fulfill its intended purpose—providing essential assistance to help older adults remain at home,” he said. “That’s because in the end, everyone buying a lottery ticket in the Commonwealth deserves to know that their purchase is truly helping older Pennsylvanians live where they want.”