- Gov. Scott Walker says the bill passed by the Wisconsin State Assembly committing $250 million in taxpayer money toward paying for a new Milwaukee Bucks arena is a "good deal all the way around."
Walker made his comments Tuesday while speaking with reporters in Philadelphia.
Walker says he is ready to sign the bill, which passed on a bipartisan 52-34 vote. There were 35 Republicans and 17 Democrats in support, with 20 Republicans and 14 Democrats against.
Beth Meyers (D-Bayfield), Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point), Dave Heaton (R-Wausau), Nancy Vander Meer (R-Tomah), and Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa) voted against the bill.
Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz), Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander), and John Spiros (R-Marshfield) voted for the bill.
Mary Cjaza (R-Irma) and James Edming (R-Glen Flora) didn't make it to the vote, however they paired no votes for the measure.
Under the proposal, half of the $500 million cost would initially be paid by state and local taxpayers. That cost would increase to $400 million over 20 years with interest.
Milwaukee would cover much of that, but the state would cover $55 million. Supporters believe this will help more than Milwaukee.
"We want to see prosperity throughout southeastern Wisconsin and throughout this great state of Wisconsin," Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said. "And we think this deal is going to insure that that is going be a big piece of our bright future."
Other lawmakers believe it would cost the state more to actually let the Bucks go. That's because the state would have to pay for an aging Bradley Center while losing tax dollars from visiting NBA players.
"If we say goodbye, and we just turn our backs, and say 'We don't need you. Go ahead and go away,' we still have a debit of about $70 to 120 million to the Bradley Center," Rep. John Spiros (R-Marshfield) said.
The Senate passed it on a bipartisan 21-10 vote on July 15.
Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) voted against the measure. He says government shouldn't subsidize professional sports facilities. However, some lawmakers like Rep. Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee) say this is what first class cities and states do.
"We have to maintain the resources," Barnes said. "We have to maintain the amenities. We have to maintain all that we have, and not only maintain, we have to grow."
No one spoke against the measure during the roughly hour-long debate. Bucks owner Pete Feigin and coach Jason Kidd watched debate in the Assembly gallery. Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R- Brookfield) argued this wasn't going to fix all of Milwaukee's issues.
"This isn't going to change Milwaukee," Kooyenga said. "Let's be realistic about this. Milwaukee is not going to go to the toilet if the Bucks leave, and if the Bucks stay, Milwaukee's not going to be heaven. But it is about momentum."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The bill passed on a bipartisan 52-34 vote Tuesday. The measure now goes to Gov. Scott Walker who has been working with lawmakers to reach a deal.
Under the agreement, current and former Bucks owners will pay $250 million toward the cost of the arena. The taxpayer portion will eventually grow to about $400 million over 20 years.
Supporters say the new arena will bring jobs to Milwaukee and help improve the economy of the state. They say a new arena will help the city and state continue to move forward.
Bucks coach Jason Kidd watched the debate from the Assembly gallery.