06/06/12 When people say they have a hard time trusting what their government tells them, this is the kind of thing they mean.
Here is a recent announcement from the Hoosier Lottery:
“The Indiana State Lottery Commission announced today it will seek proposals from private-sector firms for a broad scope of services in an effort to improve the performance of the Hoosier Lottery.” – Press release, Hoosier Lottery, May 16, 2012.
Seems pretty clear that the lottery is looking to privatize some of its operations, if not all of them.
But then an agency mouthpiece says this:
“This is not a move toward privatization.” – Hoosier Lottery spokesman, May 16, 2012.
Well, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…
In a little bit, I’ll talk about the mixed messages being sent here. First, let’s spend a moment reviewing the Daniels Administration’s efforts to turn over government services and programs to the private sector, a record that is spotty by even the most rose-colored standards.
The so-called centerpiece of privatization has been leasing the Indiana Toll Road to pay for a long list of road and bridge improvement projects. Recent news reports have shown that, even though the lease has nearly 70 more years to run, the chunk of change sent the state’s way is about to run out, and we have just as long a list of infrastructure improvements awaiting action as before.
Then came the privatization of some food stamp and Medicaid services to IBM, which turned into a disaster so bad that the governor backtracked and rejected the concept. Now the state and IBM are warring in court over who is to blame for the mess, and the bill that Indiana taxpayers must foot for legal services for this fight keeps growing.
Now we see that the Hoosier Lottery wants some help from the private sector in running its operations…but that doesn’t mean they’re trying to privatize the lottery.
I think most of us have a hard time taking them at their word.
Consider the evidence at hand.
This is not the first time this governor has traveled down this path. Back in 2007, he tried to lease the lottery to a private company, only to be told a year later that his efforts were against federal law.
This time around, the administration is attempting this move without any sort of legislative involvement. Present plans call for bids from private companies to be opened by the end of this summer, which means the matter will be settled before the next session of the Indiana General Assembly.
Then there is the matter of what exactly the Lottery is looking to have help running. Look at the description of the services up for consideration, and once you weed through the lawyer’s language and double talk, it certainly looks like a lot of those services are going to be under private control.
Finally there’s the little question of money. Is the state going to pay firms to run these lottery operations? Is the state going to get money for farming out these services? If they are, how is that money going to be used?
Again, these are the kinds of questions that would seem to demand legislative and public scrutiny, but it sure sounds like that study isn’t going to happen.
In other words, the administration is saying to the people of Indiana, “Trust us.”
And if there’s anything this administration should not be doing is asking us to trust them…not when we’ve seen them mismanage $526 million in your tax dollars in recent months and compel both Republicans and Democrats to seek an independent audit of the state’s books.
Perhaps having the Hoosier Lottery run by the private sector is a good idea. But not based on this administration’s track record and its apparent interest in avoiding public attention. If this plan is approved, the governor and his minions will be long gone from office before its impact is felt by the rest of us.
Let me know what you think.
Here’s how you can stay in touch if you have any questions, comments or concerns:
Call my office toll-free at 1-800-382-9842;
Write to me in care of the Indiana House of Representatives, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204; or
E-mail me at H17@in.gov.