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Young Milwaukeeans Weigh-In on Gov. Walker's Budget

Marti Mikkelson

Nearly 200 people gathered Tuesday night at a bar in downtown Milwaukee to support Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to borrow money to help pay for a new Bucks arena.

The money would be paid back through increased income taxes on Bucks players. Supporters of the plan held a rally during the governor’s budget address. The proposal is included in the budget, even though Walker didn’t mention it in his speech.

At The Garden on Milwaukee Street, many were decked out in Milwaukee Bucks attire, including Jerry Miller. He supports Gov. Walker’s plan to borrow $220 million for a new Bucks arena, and then pay it back through increased income tax collections on players.

“I think it makes a lot of sense because that income would leave the state anyway if we don’t have a new arena. So I think it makes a lot of sense to use the income from NBA athletes to fund the new arena they’ll be playing in,” Miller says.

Miller says he fears the Bucks will leave Milwaukee, if there isn’t a plan for public support. Frost Williams is mingling. He says he agrees with another budget item, deep cuts to the UW-System.

“I hate to see cuts in education, but sometimes we have to bite the bullet on things. There’s a huge deficit that we’re working through,” Williams says.

Sharnissa Dunlap-Parker is working the crowd. She’s college access coordinator for the Milwaukee Public Schools. Dunlap-Parker calls the governor’s slash to the UW System an outrage and says it bothers her that Walker doesn’t have a college degree.

“I’m an educator so I don’t like that, but I think it’s very telling that he doesn’t have a college degree, that he does cut public funding to higher education as well as to the public school systems. I think it becomes a matter of possibly he needs a degree,” Dunlap-Parker says.

Dunlap-Parker also disagrees with Walker’s plan to administer drug tests to certain people seeking benefits.

“The people who need government assistance, to put another impediment on top of poverty is just insane and the cost it would create to drug test people, I don’t think that’s what people want. People want employment, they want opportunity,” Dunlap-Parker says.

Dunlap-Parker notes Gov. Walker again made several references to the American dream in his speech, and thinks there’s no doubt he’ll run for President. Partygoer Jamie Gill believes Walker has a shot at the Republican nomination.

“You look at Wisconsin and the political arena here. We’ve got some haymakers in Paul Ryan and Scott Walker, I think that speaks to the creativity of the politicians in our state to think positively and build not only our state but our nation. I would like to see more ideas out of him and see what he’s got and who knows, maybe he’ll get my vote,” Gill says.

Gov. Walker has been visiting states that hold early presidential primaries, and is expected to do more traveling throughout the spring. In the meantime, the Joint Finance Committee will spend the next few months holding hearings and making changes to the governor’s budget. Then it goes to the full legislature.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.
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