If you want to know where Governor Scott Walker’s priorities lie, you need to understand his recent move to give $250 million to the billionaire-backed Milwaukee Bucks basketball team.
Just this month, Scott Walker tore apart his state’s public university system. The move put a financial bind on the education system in his state and freed up funds for Walker to play fast-and-loose with private interests.
Walker has never been on the side of higher education and a number of his projects have aimed at cutting the “fat” from public schools. Walker’s efforts though are putting his state at a competitive disadvantage with neighboring states when it comes to jobs.
Both of the owners of the Milwaukee Bucks are billionaires and Walker has bought into the insane notion that the public must foot the bill for building their stadium, or else. The Buck’s aren’t unique in using the threat of economic ruin and moving to a different location as a bargaining chip. However, comprehensive analysis by the Pacific Standard has shown that their claims are mostly bunk.
Economists have long known stadiums to be poor public investments. Most of the jobs created by stadium-building projects are either temporary, low-paying, or out-of-state contracting jobs–none of which contribute greatly to the local economy. (Athletes can easily circumvent most taxes in the state in which they play.) Most fans do not spend additional money as a result of a new stadium; they re-direct money they would have spent elsewhere on movies, dining, bowling, tarot-card reading, or other businesses. And for every out-of-state fan who comes into the city on game day and buys a bucket of Bud Light Platinum, another non-fan decides not to bisit and purchase his latte at the coffee shop next door. All in all, building a stadium is a poor use of a few hundred million dollars.
That sort of criticism doesn’t seem to phase Walker though, as he seems intent on systematically dismantling public goods and services in order to help soften the expenses of the billionaire class he so humbly serves.