AG Kane defends lottery rejection to senators - abc27 WHTM

Dauphin County

AG Kane defends lottery rejection to senators

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Kathleen Kane began with a disclaimer: "This is day 24 of my first term in office."

But the brand new Attorney General didn't need to lower expectations at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.

Kane was more than able, and senators seemed impressed with her preparedness and performance during the two-hour hearing. Fireworks, especially from Republicans upset at her rejection of the governor's lottery deal, never materialized.

Kane repeatedly asked senators for more money. Specifically, she's requesting $12 million more than Corbett's proposed $78.1 million. The governor's proposal is flat-funded from last year.

Kane would use the extra money in two specific places: the child predator unit and a task force to fight Mexican drug cartels.

She said if given the proper resources, her office could be arresting a child predator every day. She also said drug cartels are plaguing neighborhoods across the state, and local law enforcement is understaffed and under-funded to fight them.

Without the extra $12 million, her office will reduce staff, and that will affect public safety.

"I am extremely alarmed at the levels we're operating in the office of Attorney General. Extremely alarmed. It keeps me up at night, to be honest with you."

It was a dramatic plea that Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) put in perspective when asked about it afterward.

"I think everybody that comes before the Appropriations Committee wants to sound the alarm about their budgets and the need for additional revenue. I think we'll look at each and every case." Ferlo did concede that Kane made a compelling case for additional funding.

Senators tepidly asked about Kane's rejection of the lottery deal. None seemed interested in aggressively challenging her ruling.

She reiterated that the deal was scrutinized by a deputy secretary with many years of experience. She said he found it unconstitutional because it went well beyond the intent of the original statute and bypassed the legislature.

"Nowhere does it state they are capable, without the General Assembly's approval, of outsourcing it on their own."

The governor has frequently suggested that he wasn't attempting to privatize the lottery but rather outsource its management. Kane told senators she disagrees with that assessment.

"If you say it's a duck, it's gotta look like a duck and quack like a duck to be a duck."

Senator Mike Brubaker (R-Lancaster) is confused and is considering another public hearing on the lottery deal. He's still not certain whether the governor can unilaterally outsource the lottery, and the information is conflicting.

"We have the governor's legal counsel saying, 'Yes, he can based on 1972 law.' And we have the attorney general's legal counsel saying, 'No, you can't.' "

That's a lot of those lawyers hitting the lottery as taxpayers fund both sides of the argument.

"That's a great point, Dennis, yes we are," Brubaker said. "And that's what really frustrates me."

At a separate event on Wednesday the governor said he'll make a decision about his next legal lottery step by the end of the week. I ask Kane where she thinks the deal stands as of today?

"I don't know. We did our job. I think we did it correctly. From here on in it's up to either the legislature or the governor."

"So in your mind its dead?"

"I didn't say that. I said my job is done."

Actually it's not.

Kane will appear before the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday. We'll see if representatives find the fireworks that senators packed away.

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