Despite massive opposition from the public, Governor Scott Walker has decided to abandon all of his “small government” principles and fork over $450 million in taxpayer money to the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team for the construction of a new sports arena.
It’s a shocking corporate welfare handout that comes as Walker stripped millions from the University of Wisconsin budget and the public infrastructure of his state lies in tatters. Salon reported that “seventy-one percent of Wisconsin roads are in mediocre or poor condition, and fourteen percent of its bridges are structurally unsound.” To add insult to injury, the Bucks’ current station was constructed in 1988- a mere 27 years and $181 million ago.
The owners of the Milwaukee Bucks, Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens, are both billionaires, but will only be putting up $150 million between the two of them, putting the heaviest burden on the taxpayers. The team also threatened to move to another city if a new arena wasn’t built, highlighting the improper hostage games that sports teams play with cities and state governments.
It’s no surprise that Walker’s super PAC recently received a $150,000 donation from Jon Hammes, a Bucks investor who is now his campaign finance co-chairman. It’s a show of disgusting hypocrisy, put in sharp contrast bootstrap-lacing and belt-tightening austerity rhetoric that Walker is so fond of. It’s clear that Republican governors seeking the presidency are willing to sabotage the economies and public institutions of their own states in order to better their chances of winning the White House; with such little care for their current constituents, we can’t expect anything more from a Republican president.