More than a week after a Milwaukee Bucks arena plan was said to be imminently added to the state budget talks, there are now reports that it won’t be added to the budget bill at all, but instead will be a standalone piece of legislation. Why? Apparently so that some Republican state legislators can vote against it while still voting for Gov. Scott Walker’s budget:
UW-Milwaukee Professor Mordecai Lee says some Republican lawmakers may be in favor of the state budget as a whole, but not in favor of the arena funding proposal — and how they vote could make them vulnerable in their next primary.
“Will somebody run against me, in a Republican primary, appeal to the conservative base and say I, the incumbent, that I am not conservative enough?” Lee said.
What’s especially interesting here is that Lee raises the specter of George Petak, the Wisconsin state senator who was recalled from office by voters after casting the deciding vote in favor of a tax increase for the Brewers‘ new stadium. (Lee calls taxes for sports teams “the third rail of politics.”) It’s sometimes hard to remember with all the talk of elected officials’ fears of being blamed for teams leaving town, but the very short list of politicians who’ve lost their jobs over stadium and arena deals is entirely made up of those who were punished for voting in favor of subsidizing the local sports teams — I’ve yet to identify anyone who’s been booted from office for opposing them. Maybe that helps explain the Gang of Four, or at least helps them sleep easier at night.