Sunday, July 11, 2021

Fear the Deer! That makes the FiServ great policy, right? Not for me

Not that I'd expect any better from Robbin' Vos, but Napoleon used today's big sports event in downtown Milwaukee to make a baseless political slap.

Let's be real, if the gerrymandered WisGOP Legislature was still in charge in 2015, they'd have opposed the Bucks deal for no reason other than to blame Evers if the team left.

But beyond that, let's go back to what happened at the State Capitol to allow FiServ Forum to be built, and whether it really was worth it. You can click this link to see the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's summary of the Bucks arena bill, which includes the horrid $220 million giveaway of state money that Walker originally wanted to do (with the total reaching $381.7 million with debt costs), and the lesser giveaway that we ended up with.

First, taxpayers are still playing $8 million a year for the Bucks arena, although half of that is paid back by giving a cut in shared revenue to Milwaukee County.
a. Two separate, GPR sum certain appropriations and provide $4.0 millionGPR in each appropriation in 2016-17 to make payments to [the Wisconsin Center District] to assist in the development and construction of the District's sports and entertainment home arena facilities. One of the appropriations is related to the $4.0 million annual GPR, county and municipal aid reduction to Milwaukee County, although it would not be statutorily tied to those provisions. Specify that both appropriations would be repealed on June 30, 2036. Require that the appropriation that is not related to the Milwaukee County aid payment reduction provisions under the Act be limited to a cumulative total of $80.0 million.

b.A biennial appropriation funded at $10.0 million GPR in 2016-17 for the payment of grants to the Bradley Center Sports and Entertainment Corporation. Specify that the appropriation would be repealed on June 30, 2017.
I just took a look at the recently signed state budget, and sure enough, both of those $4 million annual payments to the WCD are still in there. And we are still paying a little over $1 million in interest over the next 2 years for the now-demolished Bradley Center.

As alluded to above, Milwaukee County is getting $4 million less from the state in shared revenue, with the argument being that all the added economic activity from the arena will make up for it. That's a questionable assumption, as a 0.5% sales tax would require $800 million in added, sales-taxable activity to give an extra $4 million in revenues. Maybe that's happening, especially with all of the NBA and sports media people descending on the City this week, but that also assumes that money wouldn't be getting spent anywhere else in Milwaukee over the course of the year.

Let's also note that while the Wisconsin Center District is the one who took on all of the borrowing and debts for the FiServ instead of the state, the WCD also gets $1.50 from each ticket sold at the FiServ (the state also gets $0.50 a ticket), and the District gets the following taxes.

So they should be doing OK with this. The state likely gets its $4 million in net funds back and then some, because there likely wasn't going to be a recovery of salaries that would be close to the $135.5 million that the Bucks have in team payroll for this year (that's before we talk about coaching, front office, or regular employee staff). The added construction in and around the arena also likely gained income and jobs, at least in the short term.

But you know who's not getting much in additional taxes sent to them? The City that houses the Bucks and the Deer District.

And the state isn't sending additional shared revenues back to the City either. Governor Evers wanted to send an additional 2% to all local communities in Wisconsin in those funds for this budget, and the GOP-run Legislature said no.

Which makes this statement by a suburban GOP legislator who voted for the arena package all the more infuriating.

Hey Joey. Maybe if you allowed Milwaukee to keep more of the money that they generate from FiServ Forum and the other reasons that they are Wisconsin's Number 1 tourist attraction, THEY COULD AFFORD TO HIRE AND KEEP THOSE COPS!

But giving all of Milwaukee a better chance of succeeding wouldn't allow WisGOPs to play off the resentments and racism of weak white people, and get votes from those dopes, now would it? At the same time, you can bet all of these lowlifes will be giving their #FearTheDeer tweets and talking about how great it is for the NBA Finals to be in Wisconsin for the first time since 1974.

And the two-tier reality of Milwaukee and the lack of payback that the City has gotten from this development is why I still think the FiServ Forum was a bad deal, and not worth the tax dollars that were put into it. Yes, I like the arena, am very happy the Bucks are in the Finals, and it's a great stage for Wisconsin's largest city and economic engine to show for the rest of the country. But it doesn't seem to have done much for the economic apartheid that grips Milwaukee, and the race-baiting and resentments from WisGOPs seem worse now than they were when this scheme was passed into law 6 years ago.

It'd be a healthier situation to see real investment in all corners of the City, and better jobs and access spread across the region. And for Milwaukee to have a better chance of choosing its own fate, instead of being handcuffed by a gerrymandered Legislature that would rather have a few fancy attractions and lots of losers than a large-scale, legitimate strategy to turn around decades of damage from racial segregation and corporate greed.

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