State Treasurer will look to protect lottery in age of casinos

Goldberg will take the oath of office Wednesday

BOSTON (STATE HOUSE) – Set to officially take office Wednesday morning, incoming Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg plans to highlight in a speech efforts she will take to protect the state Lottery from competition and outline ways she will use her office to promote income equality and financial education.

Goldberg, a former Brookline selectwoman whose family founded the Stop & Shop supermarket chain, will take the oath of office Wednesday, officially assuming control from Steven Grossman of the state’s pension investments and Lottery, as well as oversight of the state retirement board, the alcoholic beverages industry, debt management, and the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

Grossman, also a Democrat, ran for governor last year after one term as treasurer, but came up short in the Democratic primary.

Goldberg, 60, told the News Service in an interview that it is possible that casinos, which are expected to open in her first term, could hurt Lottery revenues that are funneled into local aid for cities and towns. She pledged to blunt that competition.

“They’re number one in the country. Under me, they’re going to continue to be number one,” Goldberg said of the Lottery. “I’m very driven by the passion of knowing literally decisions are made on whether you can plow sidewalks in your community when there’s a lot of snow because of those dollars that come in.”

In her remarks, according to a draft, Goldberg will discuss drawing inspiration from her family’s business background and her years in municipal government. While charting her own course, Goldberg said she will also look to further Grossman’s legacy by building on his effort to encourage local banks to lend to Massachusetts small businesses.

Goldberg will announce in her inaugural speech to be given in the House chamber that the Lottery will be going out to bid this week on new terminals to replace machines that, in many cases, are nearly 20 years old. A bill approved by the Legislature last summer authorized up to $65 million in borrowing to pay for the new terminals.

The new technology, according to Goldberg, will allow Treasury officials to analyze sales trends and “create the marketing opportunities that we will need to be extremely savvy and innovative in how we market the Lottery.”

Robin Healey, a former software process specialist at MathWorks, will join Goldberg’s administration as chief information officer in a newly elevated “senior staff” position to focus on technology efficiencies and upgrades.

Characterizing the Lottery’s advertising budget as “miniscule,” Goldberg also said she would fight to keep advertising funding at least level in a time of possible budget cuts, and push for prominent placement of Lottery vending machines at casinos.

The 2012 expanded gambling law required casino operators to partner with the Lottery to sell its products at gambling facilities.

“We’re working on making sure those machines have good placement, that they’re not buried in some closet,” she said in the interview.

Goldberg will testify Thursday before lawmakers at a consensus revenue hearing where her office’s budget and forecasts for the Lottery in fiscal 2016 are likely to be discussed.

Goldberg will also announce on Wednesday the creation of an Office of Economic Empowerment within the Treasury to be led by new deputy treasurer Alayna Van Tassel, former chief of staff to Rep. David Linsky.

Goldberg said the office will focus on building a strong financial literacy program for all ages, develop solutions to the problem of college affordability and student debt and work to build public-private partnerships to help families with kindergarten-aged children start saving for college.

“We’re raising this to the level of being a highly important position because I believe government cannot do everything, but we have a responsibility to at least help people get the tools they need to empower themselves,” Goldberg said in the interview.

She will also highlight in her speech ways in which the treasurer’s office will set an example for achieving pay equity in the workforce where she says women in Massachusetts earn 82 cents on the dollar.

By putting a “clear, unambiguous focus on pay equity” when hiring at Treasury, Goldberg will explain how her office can set an example for government and work with private employers to “give them the tools and resources they need to achieve pay equity,” according to a draft of the speech.

Goldberg said she met with Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, in December to discuss how they might work together. In her speech, Goldberg plans to emphasize that despite the size of the mid-year budget gap identified by Baker on Tuesday as $765 million, she believes that the state’s “rainy day” fund should be left untouched.

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