Brewer ballpark funding vote coming; GOP senator still not sure

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(The Center Square) – The plan to spend more than $500 million in taxpayer money on the Milwaukee Brewers’ stadium is headed for a vote next week, even though there continues to be opposition at the Wisconsin Capitol.

An assembly panel approved the framework for the public funding of American Family Field. The latest plan has a lower price tag. Milwaukee and Milwaukee County will now have to pay $67 million over the next 27 years, as opposed to the $200 million that was originally proposed.

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said that’s a price tag he can afford.

“The Milwaukee Brewers are an important asset for our community. That’s why I’m pleased to see the progress that has been reached thus far to keep the organization in Wisconsin,” Crowley said in a statement. “While we’ve secured a positive agreement in the Wisconsin State Assembly, I now look ahead to engaging with members of the state senate on a path forward. My main priority has not changed: to deliver a bipartisan solution that allows Milwaukee and the state to retain the Brewers, while providing Milwaukee County with additional resources to support our residents and communities in the years ahead.”

But not everyone is happy with the ballpark funding plan.

State Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, questioned what taxpayers outside of the Milwaukee-area get as part of the deal.

“Taxpayers from all over Wisconsin will be forced to funnel $411 million towards a stadium maintenance deal that provides little in return to the hardworking taxpayers of Wisconsin,” Nass said. “The big winners currently in this rushed deal: the Brewers, the city and county of Milwaukee, Gov. [Tony] Evers, Wisconsin Democrats and powerful special interests. The big losers are the taxpayers and Wisconsin Republicans.”

The agreement calls for the Brewers to spend $100 million of their own money on the ballpark as well. In exchange for the public money, the Brewers are agreeing to stay in Milwaukee until 2050.

Nass said he fears the team will come back to the state and ask for a new stadium.

Nass said he intends to try and get something better when the ballpark funding deal shifts to the senate.

“If Republican leaders believe that the Brewers’ Stadium Bills must pass then at least amend the bill to include something for state taxpayers. I am prepared to offer an amendment that would insert the $2.9 billion middle class and retiree tax cut that has been blocked by Evers. A plan that would provide the average taxpayer a $772 income tax cut,” Nass added.

The Assembly is expected to approve the ballpark package next week. No one is saying when it could see a vote in the State Senate.

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