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Ahead and Leave, Milwaukee Bucks
Like many residents of the 17th Senate District, I have had very
mixed feelings about the proposed deal to build a new arena for
the Milwaukee Bucks. I am not a Bucks fan. I don’t know a single
player on the team. I can’t remember the last time I attended a
game – or any event, for that matter – at the Bradley Center in
taxpayer money on an arena for a sport seems frivolous and
irresponsible to me during a time when we are trimming our
budget and making very tough decisions about core priorities in
But, like I always do, I looked at the numbers and I want to
show you what I have learned.
The state of Wisconsin owns the Bradley Center and owes $20
million on existing Bradley Center debt. We cannot walk away
When the Bucks were sold in 2014, the National Basketball
Association (NBA) promised the new owners that a new arena would
be built by 2017 or they could move the team to another city. If
the state does not invest in the new arena, the team will leave
If the team leaves Wisconsin, taxpayer liability is estimated at
$120 million in costs for the facility over the next 10 years.
This liability includes debt, maintenance, operations and
If the team leaves Wisconsin, we lose a minimum of $6.5 million
in income taxes each year from player salaries. For example,
when LeBron James plays in Milwaukee, we take income taxes from
his salary for each game he plays in our state. During the
2014-2015 season, LeBron James was paid $20,068,563 and we
collect income taxes on these earnings!
In addition, it is estimated to cost $100 million for upgrades
to the facility in order to keep it functional in lieu of
building a new arena. It is uncertain what kinds of events will
use the facility if the Bucks leave. Concerts? Soccer? Hockey?
The recently proposed “new” deal to build an arena seeks a state
contribution of $55 million toward the total project cost of
$500 million, as well as our debts. In other words, the state
would agree to pay $4 million for the next 20 years. This means
state-wide taxpayers would be paying 11% of the cost to build a
new arena while divesting ourselves of major liabilities.
In return for our investment, the state of Wisconsin would get
out of the arena business and is guaranteed the following:
arena project is funded with no new state or local taxes –
or state borrowing.
Current debt on the Bradley Center is paid and the state is
not responsible for the facility.
of the project will be paid by retired US Senator Herb Kohl
(the Bucks’ former owner) and the Bucks’ current owners.
overruns on the project will be paid by the Bucks.
Maintenance and operations of the arena will be paid by the
team. The state currently covers all of these costs!
state is protected if the Bucks leave – the team will pay
back the public investment.
original proposal sought $200 million from the state of
Wisconsin with only $50 million from the City and County of
Milwaukee, which I thought was completely out of line. In the
new deal, the City, County and the Wisconsin Center District (www.wcd.org)
have increased their contributions to assume more of the burden,
reducing the investment for taxpayers statewide.
Overall, the investment to build a new arena is proposed to be
|State of Wisconsin -
Bonds: Bucks Stadium
|Sen. Herb Kohl
|City of Milwaukee
To summarize the investments, private
funding will cover 50% of the costs, Milwaukee’s investment
in the project is 39% of the costs and the state will
contribute 11% of the costs.
Another important factor to consider is that NBA salaries
are projected to grow significantly over the next 20 years.
Due to a new NBA TV deal, player salaries are expected to
increase by 25% in 2017, which means additional income tax
revenue for our state.
We are already collecting approximately $6.5 million per
year from player income taxes. If the state contribution is
$4 million per year, our investment is paid by these income
taxes. As a numbers-guy, it looks like we are making money
on this deal!
Estimates of economic impact include 15,000 jobs related to
the new arena and surrounding development with $1 billion in
economic impact. In addition to the arena, new retail,
entertainment and commercial development is planned around
the site to create a more robust sports and entertainment
At this time, I am studying all of this new information and
seeking input from stakeholders, residents of the 17th
Senate District and others throughout the state. I
understand that the estimates and information presented so
far have been confusing and inconsistent. This column is an
attempt to simplify and explain the new information I have
gathered. I hope that you will find it helpful in your
understanding of the proposed project.
summarize our options:
1. We can do nothing. The Bucks will leave Wisconsin and
the state will have to pay approximately $120 million
over the next 10 years for debt, maintenance and
operations of the building without player income taxes
($6.5+ million per year).
2. We can invest $4 million per year for 20 years, the
Bucks will stay, we will collect $6.5+ million per year
for player income taxes and $1 billion will be invested
in the project and surrounding developments and we will
get out of the arena business.
Now, I want to hear
from you. What do you think of this deal? Should the state
contribute to the arena project? Or should we tell the Bucks to
For more information and to connect with me, visit my website
http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein and do not
hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have input, ideas or need
assistance with any state-related matters.
This week, the State Senate was in session. The following are
bills that I introduced and were passed in the Senate:
Senate Bill 182
Out-of-state ambulance licensees
law says that out-of-state ambulance service providers cannot,
without a Wisconsin license, cross state lines to help those in
need of emergency care in Wisconsin.
This poses a problem for those in rural Lafayette County,
specifically, Gratiot and South Wayne. Currently, if someone is
in need of emergency care and they call 911 for an ambulance,
they would have to wait upwards of 20 minutes for the Darlington
or Monroe EMS providers to arrive – which are the closest
service providers in the state of Wisconsin. The Warren, IL EMS
could arrive on the scene in as little as 5 minutes.
Just last year, an incident occurred in South Wayne and a
constituent was in need of emergency medical attention. Both the
Warren, IL and the Darlington, WI ambulances were dispatched.
Within minutes, Warren EMTs arrived on the scene and took steps
that ultimately saved the man’s life. Due to the distance they
needed to travel, this all occurred before Darlington EMS had
arrived at the scene. Doctors said if it wasn’t for the fast
arrival of Warren EMS, the man might not have lived. Time saves
lives in many medical emergencies.
This bill creates a limited exemption from the requirement for
licensure for an out-of-state EMS providing services to
Wisconsin residents. Specifically, this exemption will allow
Warren, IL EMS the ability to continue serving communities in
southern Lafayette County.
This bill is about the safety of those in rural areas and giving
them the best possible care.
Senate Bill 137
Publication of legal notices
Currently, certain legal notices are required by statute to be
published. Local municipalities are currently required to post
meeting notices in three public places to inform residents of
the scheduled meeting.
In an effort to provide municipalities with more options when
publicly posting meeting notices, this bill allows
municipalities to post the notice in one public place and
publish the notice on the municipality’s Internet site. We are
giving town governments an option for regular meeting notices to
allow more efficiency and lift a small burden.
This bill provides smaller municipalities options to improve
efficiencies when providing the public with notice of scheduled
meetings. This bill also aims to encourage towns to utilize
their webpages to better communicate with citizens.
In the District
50th Anniversary and the Grand Re-Opening of the
Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in the ribbon
cutting of the Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail with Representative Ed
Brooks, Representative Lee Nerison, Representative Nancy
VanderMeer, Department of Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett, and
former Governor Tommy Thompson. The Elroy-Sparta trail is the
first “rails to trails” conversion in the country!
*Department of Tourism Secretary Stephanie
Klett, Representative Ed Brooks, Former Governor Tommy Thompson,
Representative Nancy VanderMeer, Senator Howard Marklein,
Representative Lee Nerison, and Department of Natural Resources
Deputy Secretary Kurt Thiede.
Congratulations to the Sports Teams in the District
The 17th Senate District is proving once again to be filled with
a number of all-stars! I want to send out my congratulations to
the Cuba City Girls Track team and the Dodgeville/Mineral Point
Girls Track team for their recent state titles.
I also want to send out my congratulations to the Lancaster and
Mineral Point Boys Golf teams for taking third and fifth place
in the state tournament, and individual players from the
Dodgeville, Cuba City and the Argyle/Pecatonica schools for
making it to the state tournament.
Finally, I want to send out my congratulations to the Division 2
River Valley Boys Baseball team and the Division 4 Ithaca Boys
Baseball team as they will be competing in the State Boys
Baseball Tournament next week. River Valley is my Alma Mater,
and I am very proud to have them represented in the state
Congrats to all of our spring sport athletes!
Update: Official Juneau County Dairy Breakfast
I wanted to take a moment to send out an update on the “Official
Juneau County Dairy Breakfast,” which did not make it into my
previous E-Update. This breakfast is held annually at the Elroy
Fair which runs from June 25-28. The Dairy Breakfast is on
Sunday, June 28 from 7 am to 11 am. I look forward to enjoying
the fresh breakfast and serving up some pancakes!
I have enjoyed the opportunity to attend a number of different
Dairy Breakfasts around the 17th Senate District and look
forward to many more!
*Senator Marklein and Green County Sheriff
Mark Rohloff at the Green County Breakfast on the Farm
*Senator Marklein is pleased to provide this
legislative E-Update to the constituents of the 17th State
Senate District. Please feel free to share this update with
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