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Vos Courts Democratic Votes In Push For Bucks Arena

GOP Speaker Was Harsh Critic Of Similar Spending Under Dem Leadership

Robin Vos
Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Public Television

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos wants Democrats to vote for a plan that would help the Milwaukee Bucks build a new area, even though Vos himself attacked Democrats for helping the Bucks six years ago.

When Democrats controlled the state Legislature in 2009, they added $5 million to the budget for a new scoreboard at the Bradley Center, where the Bucks play now. Vos, who at the time was on the Legislature’s budget committee, pounced on the move immediately.

“We see $5 million for the Bradley Center. Now, I think that most of the Bucks are doing just fine financially. They probably don’t need our help,” Vos said at the time.

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Republicans went on to use that $5 million scoreboard in campaign ads attacking Democrats in 2010, an election cycle that gave Republicans power over all levers of state government.

In 2015, it’s a different story. As Assembly speaker, Vos helped negotiate the deal to have the public pay for half of a new $500 million Bucks arena, with the state’s share at $55 million before interest. Vos reportedly wants 10 to 15 Democratic votes for the plan. Asked recently whether that number was accurate, he said it could even be higher.

“Yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me if we need that or more,” Vos said.

The speaker had earlier said he thought he had enough Republican votes to pass the Bucks arena deal, though he stressed at the time that he hadn’t done a formal vote count.

Republican Majority Leader Jim Steineke said Monday he was confident the measure would pass.

The Bucks deal is up for a vote in the Assembly Tuesday. It already passed the state Senate.