Earlier today the Republican-controlled State Senate approved using taxpayer dollars to fund a shiny new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks. The vote to approve the financing was 21 in favor of the scheme and 10 opposed, with former Democratic Minority Leader Chris Larson and five other Democrats joining Republicans in approving the scheme. In a Facebook post explaining his support for the scheme, Sen. Larson wrote he’d vote for the scheme if “the County’s heartless debt collection portion is pulled from the deal,” and he also acknowledged the scheme was not perfect. However, what Sen. Larson did not mention is the fact that the scheme Sen. Larson voted in favor of will actually see state aid to Milwaukee County cut by $4 million per year (emphasis added).
Before approving the measure, senators adopted a 12-page amendment to the proposal that:
Dropped a requirement that Milwaukee County turn over its debt collection program to the state, which has more power to recover unpaid property taxes and court fines. Instead, the county would see its state aid reduced by $4 million a year to cover its portion of the arena.
It’s worth noting that according to the Journal Sentinel’s report, the $4 million per year cut in state aid to Milwaukee County was demanded by Sen. Larson, who said that provision was “necessary to secure his vote for the arena.”
Along with Sen. Larson, five other Democrats voted to cut state aid to Milwaukee County by $4 million per year to help make the dream of a new arena for the billionaire owners of the Bucks a reality:
- Jon Erpenbach
- Lena Taylor
- Nikiya Harris Dodd
- Jennifer Shilling
- Janis Ringhand
While I certainly appreciate the assortment of reasons why many folk from both sides of the political spectrum want to keep the Bucks in Milwaukee, what I can’t appreciate is keeping the Bucks in Milwaukee at the expense of Milwaukee County’s residents, because there’s no doubt in my mind County Executive Chris Abele will close that gap in funding by finding something to cut from the budget. That’s a travesty, and I can’t believe three state senators representing Milwaukee voted to allow the state to cut aid to the County.
That’s real money, and that cut’s going to hurt at a time when the County is already facing a myriad of problems that won’t be solved by the construction of a new arena for the Bucks.
In closing, I’m just gonna leave this here as a reminder of what a scam taxpayer funding for sports arenas/stadiums is.