Milwaukee official proposes tax hike that’s dead on arrival, stop even reading this, seriously

Another day, another Wisconsin official throwing Milwaukee Bucks arena funding ideas against the wall and watching them fall ineffectually to the ground:

Under [County Executive Chris] Abele’s plan, the current 0.5% tax on food and beverage sales would be increased, with the extra revenue diverted to debt service on a $500 million arena and, down the road, possibly an expanded convention center, the sources said…

Increasing the food and beverage tax faces at least two major hurdles. One is that it would require the approval of the Republican-dominated Legislature, making passage doubtful. The second is that Gov. Scott Walker has repeatedly said he is opposed to any kind of tax increase as a means of funding the $500 million arena.

Yeah, so that ain’t happening, especially not in a month when the state is about to start slashing spending on everything in sight to fill a giant budget hole. In fact, Don Walker’s story on Abele’s plan says it may already have been dropped from arena talks, though he still devotes an awful lot of words to it. Slow news year, I guess.


13 comments on “Milwaukee official proposes tax hike that’s dead on arrival, stop even reading this, seriously

  1. I wonder if the 0.5% tax bump is a stalking horse for re-directing existing tourist taxes (hotels, rental cars, downtown bars & restaurants) to the new arena. I hope so.

  2. Why not a user tax on tickets, food & beverages sold at the new Arena. I call it… taxing the actual backers of a boondoggle.

  3. Tony: Because 1) there’s no way that would raise enough money, 2) it would effectively lower the concessions prices the Bucks could charge, and if they wanted to do that they could just skim money off the top of concessions and spend it on the arena themselves.

  4. I get more and more angry every time I read about the pending ripping off of me and other wisconsin tax payers. Does anyone know of sites that have sprung up to make it easy to email representatives about this issue.

  5. Tony, the arena took in $2.3M in ticket service charges in 2014 to cover upkeep. Not nearly enough to keep up, ’cause they pay $4.7 of $11.3M in product/service revenue to the Bucks, who don’t pay any rent or other fees.

    It’s no way to run a business, or even a charity. But it’s the “non-working” model…

    Matt, there’s a state gov site that lists all email addresses for state reps. For now, only a few officials are in on the deal making: Sen. Fitzgerald, Rep. Vos, County Exec Abele. Mayor Barrett, and their confidantes. You can write also find all city Common Council & MKE county supervisor emails online. I don’t know of any an organized opposition. But contacting officials can’t hurt.

  6. But what if not making a deal means the Bucks leave for Seattle? When the rubber hits the road, government entities tend to cave to keep their teams from leaving. Seattle is the only one in recent memory that said “no”, called the league’s bluff, and subsequently lost their team.

  7. And Minneapolis called its teams’ bluffs for a long time and didn’t lose them, as did Miami, etc. The Bucks are certainly a risk to go to Seattle, but it’s hardly 100% that they’ll leave without the perfect arena deal.

    At the very least, it seems like someone in government should be saying something like: “Will you take $100 million? We can find $100 million — if you act now.”

  8. I think Milwaukee/WI will cave. The governor is running for president so he wants a deal. Lasry/Edens are huge democratic donors so Barrett will cave eventually.

  9. We’ll know we are at end stage when the “we need this to be a major league city” arguments begin to appear. Hmm, let’s see how did that work out for Detroit? Major league baseball, football, basketball, and hockey: but as we can see there they are. I fervently await the debut season of the Seattle Bucks.

  10. People forget that Milwaukee has proven it does not need to be a “major league city”. Studies have shown (cannot remember the names but they were two profs at UWM) that the “loss” of the Braves benefited the region economically and in terms of civic engagement. In a lesser sense they “lost” the Packers–well 3 games a year plus exhibition and were no worse off for it.