Scott Walker Plays Defense on Funding Bucks Arena

Wisconsin governor stands by new NBA facility at taxpayer expense.

June 11, 2015, 3:49 PM

— -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is doubling down on his defense of a deal to use $250 million in taxpayer money to build a new arena for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks.

When ABC News’ Jonathan Karl first asked the likely presidential candidate about the price tag on the new arena last weekend, Walker defended it as a “good deal” for Wisconsin.

“We would lose $419 million in 20 years if we did nothing -- if we said, go ahead and move somewhere else, which the NBA said they would do,” Walker told Karl. “In this case, we don’t raise any taxes. There are no new taxes, only existing taxes. And we get a great return unlike any other project out there.”

And today, with some Wisconsin politicians publically vocalizing their opposition to the arena this week and increased media attention swirling around the deal, Walker used his weekly governor’s radio address to deepen his defense.

“NBA players make a lot of money, and every time they play here in Wisconsin, we get a piece of that through state income taxes, from both home and away players,” Walker said in the address, released today. “That really adds up.”

He attempted to assuage the concerns of those who have argued the money could be better spent elsewhere, in areas such as education and health care.

“We hear your concerns,” Walker, 47, said. “And that’s why we took a long, hard look at the financial impact of investing to keep the Bucks here or just letting them go.”

“It’s cheaper to keep them,” Walker concluded, repeating what has become his slogan in defending the deal.

Conservative advocacy groups, including the Koch brothersAmericans for Prosperity, have blasted the proposal as bad for taxpayers. Others point out that the governor is inadvertently helping Hillary Clinton because the Bucks co-owner, Marc Lasry, has been a loyal supporter and donor to the Democratic presidential front-runner.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events