Senate Passes Bucks Arena Deal Days After Walker Slashes Education Funding

The Wisconsin state Senate has approved a public financing deal for a new Milwaukee Bucks arena.

Republicans crafted a bill that would devote $250 million in public dollars to the project. GOP leaders controls the Senate 19-14 but didn't have enough support to get to 17 votes, forcing them to ask minority Democrats to join them.

The parties brokered a deal Wednesday afternoon that includes a $2 ticket surcharge and eliminates provisions requiring the state to offset a $4 million annual contribution to the stadium by collecting Milwaukee County's past due debt.

The Senate quickly convened after the deal was struck and passed the deal 21-10. The bill now goes to the state Assembly for approval.

The deal comes just days after Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a state budget that includes cuts of $250 million to the University of Wisconsin system, among other cuts to public education funding.

Public funding of sports arenas has garnered a great deal of attention in past weeks. The HBO series “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” aired a segment Sunday arguing against public funding for privately-owned stadiums and reported that the vast majority of economists "consistently found no substantial evidence" that arenas "increased jobs, incomes or tax revenues" to local economies. The segment also notes that the billionaire owners of the team, Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens, are “perfectly capable” of paying for the cost of the building.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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