By Srijan Sen
The bill to provide partial public funding for the new Bucks arena has passed the state assembly by a 52- 34 margin.
Pending the approval of Gov. Walker and the Milwaukee Common Council, the Bucks arena has cleared most legislative hurdles.
Gov. Walker told reporters in Philadelphia that he will sign the bill in which the taxpayer portion will eventually grow to about $400 million over 20 years.
Current and former owners of the Bucks are funding the initial $250 million towards the $500 million project.
The remaining $250 million will come from Wisconsin taxpayers in various forms.
No one spoke against the bill as Bucks Coach Jason Kidd and team owner Peter Feigin watched from the gallery as the assembly took a vote on the issue.
Kidd and Feign made rounds before the vote posing for pictures with both lawmakers and the public.
“The Bucks will not only remain home in Wisconsin, but we’ll soon begin a transformative economic development project that will help revitalize our community and region,” Feigin said in a statement issued by the team.
Gov. Walker called it a “good deal all the way around” while speaking with reporters at Pat’s King of Steaks, one of two Philadelphia cheesesteak institutions he visited on Tuesday.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has been a strong voice of support in the city and is happy with the outcome of the assembly’s vote.
“I’m pleased today to report that we’ve taken another significant step to reach that goal to get the arena approved,” Barrett said.
There is bi-partisan support as well as opposition to this deal.
Opponents argue taxpayers should not subsidize the cost of a private arena, especially just weeks after the Legislature passed, and Walker signed, a budget that cuts funding for other public assets, including a $250 million reduction to the University of Wisconsin and a likely $18 million cut to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Some lawmakers are also uncertain about Milwaukee’s ability to pay back its share.
“The $80 million is going to be a huge cut to Milwaukee County and I don`t know how it`s going to be made up,” Rep. Jonathan Brostoff said.
Fourteen Democrats voted against, but all of the opponents were silent during debate that came in an unusual summer session of the Legislature called specifically to pass the Bucks bill.