Gov. Scott Walker is not being honest with Wisconsin residents about his reasons for rejecting the Kenosha casino, costing the southeastern most corner of Wisconsin up to 10,000 jobs and the state hundreds of millions of dollars.
The governor’s refusal to be honest about why he continues to say “no” when a “yes” is both legal and the right decision is beyond frustrating, and here’s why: Walker keeps pointing to potential financial risks that would put state taxpayers on the hook for losses at the Potawotami’s Milwaukee casino when those risks don’t exist thanks to a 2005 compact amendment.
An editorial in the Kenosha News Monday points to a memo issued by Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch last summer that points out the language in the amendment.
“As you know, Compact Paragraph XXXI.I specifically contemplates the possibility of a Kenosha casino and exempts a Kenosha casino from the category of impermissible new gaming that would void the exclusivity provision,” the writers quote.
Specifically, the amendment redefines the boundary for a competing casino that was in the original compact signed in 2003; instead of a 50-mile radius, the distance is reduced to 30 miles and exempts land south of Highway E and east of I-94. More, if the Potawatomi did sue the state over the new casino, they would lose thousands of slot machines and be out of business by 2019.
Yet, Walker does not budge from his original talking points despite them being rendered utterly moot and without merit. And, when pressed about these issues, the governor refuses to answer or offer any reasons of substance for why he continues to reject an $800 million project that involves zero taxpayer money on any level.
What also makes Walker’s rejection so galling is that he was just in Kenosha to welcome a company from Illinois and their jobs, a situation he’s celebrated many times over the last four years. Let’s say that again. The governor was in Kenosha. Celebrating what amounts to a handful of jobs compared to the thousands that would be created with the casino that will now undoubtedly go to Illinois.
Here’s the reason why the governor rejected the casino: he wants to be the next President of the United States, and backers in Iowa told him to refuse the project if he wants POTUS on his resume.
The jobs generated by the construction and operation of the casino would make a difference here that cannot be exaggerated. So, I hope residents here have longer memories than usual, and those who are angry stay mad and willing to hold Walker accountable for this devastating decision.