UPDATE: RightWisconsin.com reports that NBA player income taxes in excess of the $6.5 million currently collected by the state will be used to fund $220 million in state revenue bonds. You can watch Walker's press conference live right at the WISN website.
Last weekend the big news broke: Gov. Scott Walker was going to throw his political muscle behind "jock tax" funding for a new downtown arena project. And it looks like we won't have to wait long for some actual details.
Don Walker reported on Monday that Gov. Walker has scheduled a 10 a.m. press conference on Tuesday at the office of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, where it's expected that he'll announce the specifics (however limited they may be at this point) of his proposal for state support of a new arena. Via Walker:
A source familiar with Walker's plan said the governor's plan relies on the diversion of income taxes paid by visiting National Basketball Association athletes as well as Milwaukee Bucks players to pay the debt service on the bonding. The plan also could include diverting sales taxes paid for some goods and services at the new arena.
Walker's policy-makers have kept specifics of the financing plan, which would supplement the money new Bucks owners Wes Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan have pledged toward the new arena, under wraps. The source said it was not clear how much Walker would ask for in state bonding for the project.
"No one is sure how far he'll go," the source said.
As we wrote last weekend, Walker's willingness to lead on the public funding question is a huge win for arena advocates, especially considering that the project's specifics have yet to be finalized. But while it's a great start to meeting the NBA's 2017 "deadline" for a new arena, it's not exactly a blank check either. Walker's budget will still require approval from the Joint Finance Committee and then the full Legislature, and beyond that there's an endless amount of detail that would need to be worked out once the broad parameters of an arena project and financing agreement have been nailed down. In other words, there's still plenty of room for political theater in the coming months, though we shouldn't have expected anything less.
Not mentioned in any of the Walker talk has been Milwaukee Mayor (and long-time Walker rival) Tom Barrett, though it's not as though Barrett has the right to complain either. Save Our Bucks' has their usual insightful take on the matter:
The largest beneficiaries of a new arena are Bucks fans. The second largest beneficiary is the mayor of the city that will receive a potential $1 billion dollar investment in his community while retaining his city's NBA team. We do not expect Mayor Barrett demonstrate the same level of NBA expertise as Sacramento's mayor, former NBA star Kevin Johnson. But it is reasonable to request that our mayor not be the missing man (as he has been to date) in a project where he's the number two beneficiary. He needs to bring his fellow Democratic politicians in line to support Governor Walker on this funding mechanism and advocate hard for the new arena development to get accomplished. We understand he's excited about projects like the Street-Car Project and the Couture, but the new arena development is the real prize here.
This project is one where both sides of the political aisle can work together and not compromise their core values while at the same time providing a great economic and cultural outcome for the City, County and State of Wisconsin.