- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 4, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker’s plan for a new Milwaukee Bucks arena has “zero chance” of passing the Wisconsin state Legislature in its current form, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told county officials at a meeting Wednesday.

The plan’s odds improve dramatically - up to 80 percent - if the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County join the state in helping to pay for the arena, Vos said at a meeting of the Wisconsin Counties Association.

Walker, a likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate, last week said he would call for the state to issue or contract $220 million in appropriation bonds to help pay for the project. Walker officially released his plan Tuesday in the state budget, which now goes to the Republican-controlled Legislature for consideration.

Walker’s proposal would pay off the bonds by 2046 through projected growth in income taxes paid by NBA players.

Some lawmakers, including Vos and other Republicans, have balked at the idea of having the state contribute to the arena without money from local governments. Republican Sen. Tom Tiffany, a member of the Legislature’s budget committee, said Wednesday he wants to see the state commitment for the Bucks less than half of what Walker proposed - closer to $100 million.

Still other conservatives have objected to diverting income taxes away from the state to pay off the bonds.

“Funding for sports arenas should not be the responsibility of the state and the hard-working taxpayers of Wisconsin,” said David Fladebow, director of Americans for Prosperity’s Wisconsin chapter, when Walker released his plan.

New owners bought the team last April and have promised to contribute $150 million toward building the arena. Former owner and ex-U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl has promised $100 million of his own money to help replace the BMO Harris Bradley Center, which was built in 1988.

The new arena is estimated to cost between $400 million and $500 million.

Walker said last week that he doesn’t oppose requiring the city and county to contribute toward the project, and he anticipated that would be a part of whatever the Legislature ultimately passes.

The Bucks could leave Milwaukee in 2017 if there is no new arena.


Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP

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