Hearing offers fresh perspectives on lottery challenges, solutions

By on February 6, 2014

Sen. Brubaker represents the Lititz area in Harrisburg. His column appears weekly in the commentary section of the Record Express. His Lititz office is located at 301 E. Main St. To contact him, call 627-0036. For more information on issues of importance to Lancaster and Chester County residents, visit his website at senatorbrubaker.com.

Sen. Brubaker represents the Lititz area in Harrisburg. His column appears weekly in the commentary section of the Record Express. His Lititz office is located at 301 E. Main St. To contact him, call 627-0036. For more information on issues of importance to Lancaster and Chester County residents, visit his website at senatorbrubaker.com.

The Pennsylvania Lottery is an integral part of the state’s strategy to meet the needs of senior citizens. However, unpredictable returns and increasing demand for services are creating serious stress on the system. As Senate Finance Committee Chairman, I recently convened a public hearing to explore potential ideas to provide stable, consistent and predictable revenues to adequately fund senior programs and services.

For nearly 42 years, the Lottery has funded some of the most important programs provided to our senior citizens, including Area Agencies on Aging, property tax and rent rebates, PACE and PACENET, free transit and shared ride programs and long-term care programs. All of these programs substantially improve the quality of life for older Pennsylvanians, and it is important to ensure adequate funding is available for these services in the future.

While these programs and services are extremely important, the future funding challenges facing the Lottery are significant. Although lottery sales are projected to rise slightly over the next several years, many of the programs funded by the lottery are expected to experience a larger increase in costs. Waiting lists for services from Area Agencies on Aging continue to grow, and cost increases of at least $30 million are projected for PACE and PACENET by the 2015-16 Fiscal Year. A study by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee found that total agency program needs are projected to rise three times faster than lottery proceeds over the next four years.

The state’s aging demographics also threaten to create serious long-term funding challenges for programs and services currently funded by the lottery. Currently, less than 16 percent of Pennsylvania’s population is age 65 or older. This percentage is projected to rise to 18.7 by 2020 and to 22.5 by 2030.

The hearing explored potential plans to maximize the amount of money available for these programs, including proposals to add Keno games or contract with a private company to improve management of the system.

Regardless of our approach to these issues, our prevailing goal should be to protect and preserve the programs that seniors rely on most. Written testimony and video of the hearing is available on my website at senatorbrubaker.com.

Local residents receive honors at PA Farm Show

The 98th Pennsylvania Farm Show recently brought hundreds of thousands of visitors to Harrisburg to celebrate and promote our agriculture community. As one of the Commonwealth’s leaders in agricultural production, Lancaster County was represented extremely well at this year’s event.

A number of local participants earned special recognition during the Farm Show, including multiple award recipients who demonstrated their skills and talents in animal training, food preparation, raising crops and livestock, and performing on stage. The unique and varied talents of our community was on display throughout the week, and all of our local participants deserve a great deal of credit for representing our region. A complete list of winners and participants from here in Lancaster County is available online at farmshow.state.pa.us.

Sen. Brubaker represents the Lititz area in Harrisburg. His column appears weekly in the commentary section of the Record Express. His Lititz office is located at 301 E. Main St. To contact him, call 627-0036.

For more information on issues of importance to Lancaster and Chester County residents, visit his website at senatorbrubaker.com.

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