Hennessey Pushes to Prevent State Politicians from Tapping Lottery Fund
6/19/2009
Rep. Tim Hennessey (R-Coatesville), the Republican chairman of the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee, on Wednesday attempted to push forward a measure to prevent state politicians from using the Lottery Fund to pay for bureaucrats. House Democrats, who control the chamber, voted down Hennessey’s measure in a 98 to 96 party-line vote.
 
“Gus the Groundhog tells us that lottery proceeds are used to benefit older Pennsylvanians, but that’s not the whole truth,” Hennessey said. “For several years now, state politicians have been dipping into the Lottery Fund and using the money to pay for operational expenses at the Department of Aging.”
 
Hennessey created his proposal to deal with a practice that began in 2007 and could likely be used again in the upcoming state budget that is due July 1. Under the practice, millions of dollars from the Lottery Fund are used to pay for operating costs – including the salaries of bureaucrats – at the Department of Aging. Until 2007, the Department of Aging’s operating costs were paid for from the state’s General Fund.
 
“This issue essentially boils down to how we want to use lottery proceeds,” Hennessey said. “Should lottery dollars be used to pay for caregivers and prescription medications for senior citizens, or to pay a bureaucrat’s salary? Those who supported my amendment want to see them used to pay for programs and services that benefit senior citizens. Those who voted against my amendment support the current practice of dipping into the Lottery Fund to pay what should come from the General Fund.”
 
Hennessey attempted to amend his measure to House Bill 1152, which was up for second consideration in the House on Wednesday. Substantive changes through the amendment process are considered during second consideration. The bill is then allowed to “cool off” for 24 hours, giving lawmakers and the public a chance to review the text before the House considers it on third and final consideration.
 
While Hennessey’s amendment was defeated by the House Democrats along a party-line vote, he has also introduced his proposal as a stand-alone measure – House Bill 698. He vowed to continue pushing for the change, and said Wednesday’s vote will not dissuade him.
 
“Someone has to stand up for Pennsylvania’s senior citizens,” Hennessey said. “I’m proud that my Republican colleagues stood with me and Pennsylvania senior citizens on Wednesday. My hope is that, in the future, some House Democrats will see the light and help us to make this change a reality. We’re only a few Democrat votes short of protecting the Lottery Fund for senior citizens.”
 
House Bill 1152 could be considered on third and final consideration in the House as early as next week.
 
Rep. Tim Hennessey
26th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
(610) 380-8600
(717) 787-3431

Contact: Dan Massing
(717) 772-9845