Legislative Leaders Rewriting Gov. Walker's Plans for UW System and Arena

Mar 19, 2015

Republican leaders say Gov. Walker's budget proposals to help fund a new basketball arena and reshape UW System stand little chance of passage.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he's looking for alternatives to the governor's plan to borrow $220 million for a new Milwaukee arena. According to Fitzgerald's office, he's concerned that the interest the state would have to pay on bonds it issues could become expensive and difficult to manage.

The GOP Senator says he's talking with city and county leaders about other options for generating a public contribution. Under Walker's plan, the state would borrow, based on how much it would lose in income taxes, if the players and games left Wisconsin.

The Bucks' owners and former  owner have pledged $250 million, about half of what might be needed. The NBA has told the team that Milwaukee must build the Bucks a new basketball venue by 2017, or the league could assume ownership and move the club.

Regarding the governor's proposals to cut funding for the UW System by $300 million while giving it autonomy from most state oversight, Rep. John Nygren expects lawmakers to change both items.

Nygren, who co-chairs the Legislature's budget committee, says he wants to ease the proposed funding cut but not give university administrators the level of independence the governor is suggesting.

However, Nygren says he does support the two-year tuition freeze Walker proposes - it would follow the two-year freeze that will soon expire, and forcing the UW System to spend down its surpluses.