Friday, April 10, 2015

Scott Walker's Stadium Socialism

By James Bovard

Governor Scott Walker has soared to the front of Republican presidential candidates thanks largely to his reputation for fighting wasteful government spending in Wisconsin. Republican faithful across the nation envision Walker as the great hope to finally end Washington budget shenanigans. But a tangled, tawdry stadium subsidy deal Walker is championing raises questions about whether the Wisconsin governor is ready to play in the Big League.
Gov. Walker last month asked the Wisconsin legislature to provide $220 million in funding for a new stadium for the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team. Walker claims thathis proposal relies on a "common-sense, fiscally conservative approach" that is carefully structured to avoid gouging Wisconsinites: "There's absolute security for the taxpayers. No new taxes, no drawing on existing revenues, no exposure to the future."
But the stadium subsidy, which Walker labels "Pay Your Way," relies on an accounting gimmick — pretending to earmark the future tax payments of NBA players to cover the costs of the tax-free bonds to finance the stadium. Republican Wisconsin Rep. Chris Kapenga said, "The governor's proposal would divert these increased tax dollars, which are included in future revenue projections... to the owners of the Bucks to help fund the Milwaukee arena." Nor is there any reason to presume that government outlays will not soar in the following years. As the Manhattan Institute's Steven Malanga warns about stadium subsidies: "If you build it for them, they will fleece you."

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