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Gov. Scott Walker late Friday afternoon doubled down on his reasons for rejecting the Kenosha casino, saying there are “a hundred million” of them and placing the blame with former Gov. Jim Doyle. Lawmakers from across the state and the aisle issued a letter this week asking the governor to reconsider his decision, and on Friday, Walker issued a response with a letter from Dept. of Administration Secretary Mike Heubsch. “After reviewing your letter and Secretary Heubsch’s memo, I believe rejecting the proposed Kenosha casino is still in the best interest of Wisconsin taxpayers,” the governor wrote. “In the end, there are more than one hundred million reasons why we had to make this decision – they all fall firmly on the lap of Governor Jim Doyle.” Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, one of the officials who signed the letter to Walker, said the governor’s decision will send jobs to Illinois instead of creating them here. “Disappointing doesn’t begin to cover it. Walker is sending jobs to Illinois to make himself more appealing to voters in Iowa,” he told Racine County Eye. “I wish we had a Governor who cared more about Wisconsin than his own political ambitions.” We have attached both documents at the bottom of this story. In his memo, Heubsch refutes arguments that the recently signed compact with the Menominee and the bond the Menominee and the Hard Rock Group proposed would cover all potential losses by the Potawatomi at their Milwaukee casino:
  • The compact only promises to cover the state for future payments but does not take into account any refund amounts if the Potawatomi were to go to court and win. The memo also points out that the Bureau of Indian Affairs had not approved the compact, and there was no guarantee that they would. The result of a successful court case could mean $250 million owed to the Potawatomi by the state.
  • The proposed bond for between $200 and $250 million would have done little to protect the state primarily because of the way agreements were drawn up between the Menominee and the Hard Rock Group. Heubsch also points out that this bond was never mentioned during negotiations with the state.
  • Any potential litigation, successful or otherwise, costs money and could delay the opening of a casino in Kenosha, leaving taxpayers on the hook for those bills and the possibility the Menominee would never be able to catch up.
  • The Potawatomi would withhold revenue sharing payments while the situation is sorted out in court, potentially costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars without a chance to make up those funds until 2027.
“Our analysis shows there is nothing the Menominee can do to mitigate the risks we have identified,” Heubsch’s report to Walker states. “There is no action that you, I, any agent of your Administration, or Menominee can take to change the risks outlined in the January 22, 2015 report.”

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