TRENTON – The Treasurer sought to reassure Assembly members during a budget hearing today that the looming partial privatization of the Lottery operations is being done with “great care.’’
While he would not share specifics, he said he expects to be able to do so at length later in the month when he discusses the proposed budget for the Treasury.
“We are particularly concerned with planning a smooth transition for our employees and retail partners,” he said.
In other matters:
Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said that the ongoing federal sequester would naturally have some negative consequences for the state, “but we think these would only moderate our expansion, not imperil it.’’
In regards to municipal aid and towns’ ongoing plea for restoration of energy tax receipts, he said that “we do not have the financial flexibility to make discretionary adjustments to meet this longstanding request.” Towns want additional monies and to have them go directly to towns, rather than to the state.
He also stated that aid to towns can take the form of avoided costs, such as the pension and benefits reforms.
Regarding the Lottery privatization, Budget Chairman Vincent Prieto asked about the $120 million up-front revenue and the fact it is included in the proposed budget plan.
“Is this a done deal?” Prieto asked Sidamon-Eristoff.
The Treasurer responded that this initiative has been worked on for more than two years, involving a consultant contract phase and a request for proposal, and the administration is confident in continuing to expect those resources.
The objective is to position the lottery to be able to strengthen long-term revenues, Sidamon-Eristoff said, but he said they are mindful about the changes that retailers could be facing. But he said this change of Lottery operations is necessary to ensure funding of essential programs can go on.