Top lawmaker isn't hot on taxpayer funded Bucks arena

CREATED Jun. 11, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - A powerful state lawmaker says he's unlikely to support a taxpayer funded new arena for the Bucks.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who is from Racine County, knows the name George Petak well.  Petak was a State Senator from Racine County who was recalled after his vote allowed a sales tax that paid for Miller Park to go forward.

Vos can't see himself making the same vote.  But he's not shutting the door completely, as he might be open to letting voters decide.  That's what the state did with the sales tax that paid for the Lambeau Field renovation early last decade.

"So definitely if we were going to have a sales tax we want to do it through a referendum.  But I think it's way too premature to say that.  It would be very likely that I would not be supporting any new sales tax," Vos said.

As tight as Wisconsin's Budget has been, Vos just doesn't see taxpayers wanting to support an industry that's already swimming in money. 

"The way that professional sports has become, it certainly seems that average people have to pay higher sales taxes to support an infrastructure that allows for higher salaries than the millions of dollars they're already getting.  I just think at a time in our state and in our country when we are asking families to do more with less, government should be doing the same."

Bucks owner Herb Kohl has said he would be willing to donate a substantial amount to building a new arena, but he hasn't said said how much that might be.

Other cities are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on arena complexes that help teams generate more revenue.  Without a new arena in Milwaukee, there's concern that other cities like Seattle may eventually be able to lure the Bucks out of our city.