In his quest to privatize as much government as possible, Gov. Tom Corbett now turns to the Pennsylvania Lottery, which has been run by the state Department of Revenue for the last four decades.
From liquor sales to education, this administration has adopted a philosophy that private enterprise is much better than government at almost everything, except perhaps, the bureaucracies directly tied to the executive and legislative branches themselves.
This is not to say that privatizing the Pennsylvania Lottery is necessarily a bad thing. We have no details from the governor's office on which to base an opinion. That's because, until proposals are received from companies interested in the concept, there will be no details.
What's happening now is a fishing expedition by Mr. Corbett, dangling juicy profits to see what's biting.
The governor is concerned because the current profits from the lottery -about 30 percent of sales after payouts and other expenses -have been practically flat for the past five years. Those profits, of course, fund programs that benefit the elderly, including transit, rent and property tax rebates, prescription drug assistance, senior centers and long-term care services.
Lottery privatization isn't a new idea. Last year, a private group took over management of Illinois' lottery, promising to increase profits.
Corbett's plan, of course, drew immediate squawks from Democrats and the state's largest employees union, both of which have been opposed to privatization of most things run by government.
We should point out that increasing revenue isn't impossible for the Department of Revenue's Lottery Division. During the Rendell administration, the lottery was expanded, and total sales increased more than 50 percent from the 2002-03 fiscal year to the last fiscal year.
The governor's office assures that the state would retain close oversight of the games. The private manager, of course, would be paid an incentive fee. In the case of Illinois, that fee amounts to $15 million a year.
The devil is in the details of a privately managed lottery, and until we see them we'll wish the governor good luck on his fishing trip.