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Bucks for the Milwaukee Bucks But Not For Wisconsin Colleges

February 3, 2015

Scott Walker, the Governor who squashed unions, introduced “pension reform” and encouraged the expansion of for-profit charters and vouchers in Wisconsin to help pay for a business tax cut that would supposedly boost the State’s economy has another way to support billionaires while hurting students. According to Alice Oldstein’s ThinkProgress post, Walker’s budget proposes cutting $300,000,000 for colleges and universities while spending $500,000,000 to underwrite a new basketball stadium for the Milwaukee Bucks. This isn’t the first time Walker has cut the colleges and universities, and he sees it as a means of compelling them to spend more wisely. Oldstein writes:

…Governor Walker told local right-wing radio host Charlie Sykes that his budget cuts over the past few years have created positive “efficiencies” at the university, and offered: “Maybe it’s time for faculty and staff to start thinking about teaching more classes and doing more work.”  

While Walker is imposing the highest cuts in history on colleges, he’s offering half-a-billion in taxpayer funds for a sports stadium:

At the same time, Walker is calling for a nearly $500 million new basketball stadium in Milwaukee for the Bucks. Under his plan, the state would take out $200 million in bonds to pay for the arena, and the county and city of Milwaukee would have to chip in as well. The team’s owner has promised some private funding, and Walker claims the taxes the NBA players will pay will make up the difference. 

H-m-m-m… Walker must think the 12 players on the Bucks make a lot more money than the billionaire owner…. but just in case they don’t, Walker’s figured out a way for the college administrators to get even more “efficiencies”:

In exchange for these cuts, Walker is offering the University of Wisconsin–Madison — where his own son currently attends — more autonomy, such as control over employee wages and benefits.

So the dozen professional basketballers will pay more taxes to help underwrite a new stadium while teachers wages will decline, adjunct teachers will increase (though their pay and benefits won’t), and after four years (coincidentally the time when Walker will leave office) the tuition will skyrocket.

As noted above, this is the second installment of Walker’s plan to “cut business taxes to increase the number of employees and employers and thereby increase revenues”. And how that work out for taxpayers after the first four years?

As he begins his second term in the Governor’s mansion with a rumored eye on the White House, Walker is dedicating himself to building his national profile with trips around the country and national ads touting his “bold, fresh and new ideas.” But he will continue to grapple with discontent back home as he attempts to dig the state out of the$928 million hole

It doesn’t take an Econ 101 student to see that a $928,000,000 deficit ISN’T moving WI in the right direction!

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