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Republicans, Democrats React to Walker's Milwaukee Bucks Arena Plan

Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

After the governor delivers his budget address to legislators next week, the ball will be in their court.

Some lawmakers and interested parties have weighed in on Walker's arena proposal.  Assembly Speaker Robin Vos calls the proposal a good starting point for discussing how to keep the Bucks in Wisconsin.

Fellow Rep. Representative Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc says he needs time to digest the details. But he thinks the plan looks good at first blush.

“If there’s a creative way the governor finds to help build the stadium and keep the Bucks here and keep the money that is generated and the economic benefits that are generated, I would fully support that without any increased taxes on Wisconsinites,” Kleefisch says.

Yet, a major conservative organization is not being so cordial. Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin says it’s disappointed in the governor’s proposal. Spokesman James Flath says, while it appears the plan puts some protections in place, the group fears Wisconsin taxpayers could eventually be on the hook for paying back the state loan.

One person sharing the concern about taxpayer risk, is Democratic state Rep. LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee.

“I definitely don’t want to see the Bucks dollars leave the city of Milwaukee because that’s an investment that Milwaukee just simply can’t afford to lose. But, I want to make sure that it’s not something that’s going to be put on the backs of our already struggling families who can’t afford the luxury of attending a game,” Johnson says.

Johnson says she’ll take a closer look at the plan, before passing final judgment. Another Democratic lawmaker from Milwaukee, does not need more convincing. Sen. Nikiya Harris Dodd applauds the governor’s proposal.

“I’m glad Gov. Walker is finally investing in Milwaukee and in particular the 6th senate district by offering to assist in the funding of the Bucks arena. The $220 million proposal will provide a huge chunk of the new arena without affecting current tax dollars,” Harris Dodd says.

The Joint Finance committee will take the first crack at the governor’s budget plan.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.
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