POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Burzichelli Troubled By Lack of Transparency In Lottery Privatization Deal

The New Jersey Treasury Department has announced that a private company will take over operating parts of the state lottery in a 15-year deal. The contract is being awarded to the only bidder, North Star New Jersey, which will pay $120 million up front. Some Democrats are critical of the process and say the Christie administration hasn’t been forthcoming about the details. Democratic Assemblyman John Burzichelli told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he knows very little about the privatization plan.

Burzichelli said he wouldn’t say Democrats don’t like the privatization plan, but rather they don’t like the fact that public discussion was non-existent.

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“The lottery was established and the lottery’s very important to our revenue stream. It was established by way of a public process, public discussion and in the end a voter referendum to change the constitution,” he said. “This didn’t require a constitutional change, but if this is such a good deal — which we hope it is by the way — then I don’t know why the light of day and public discussion and public hearing would not have been helpful to the process.”

According to Burzichelli, Democrats requested that State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff discuss the details of the plan, but his schedule didn’t permit it.

“We always understood that because of the process of going out for information and trying to put the details together that there may be some things that couldn’t be discussed in great detail publicly based on the competitive process the governor’s office was engaging in,” Burzichelli said. “But this needed — in my mind — to be better understood going in.”

He said he hopes the privatization is a good move for the state, but recalled the move to privatize inspection stations under the Whitman administration wasn’t positive initially. “We hope this is not the case here collectively. But we know nothing about the details of the arrangements,” Burzichelli said.