Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson and the Democratic majority in the legislature are playing hardball over a $35 million taxable bond issue to assist the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team in building a new stadium.
The dispute between the two sides centers on the governor's use of his partial veto powers.
The legislature passed a bill in July authorizing the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority to issue the taxable bonds and loan the proceeds to the Brewers, which plans to build a new $140 million stadium to be ready for Opening Day 1995. The bill also made rentals of skyboxes at the new stadium subject to a 5% sales tax.
Gov. Thompson vetoed the sales tax portion before signing the bill.
Democrats in the legislature cried foul over the partial veto. Michael Haas, an aide to Assembly Speaker Walter Kunicki, D-Milwaukee, said the Wisconsin constitution only allows for the governor to use his partial veto on appropriation bills, and maintained that the stadium bill was a non-appropriations bill, which the governor must sign or veto in its entirety.
Julie Hertel, a spokesman for Gov. Thompson, argued that it was an appropriations bill, since it contained a component that rebated part of the state's sales tax to Milwaukee County to pay for some road construction.
The opposing sides are likely to meet in the Wisconsin Supreme Court to resolve the matter. Mr. Haas said Democratic leaders probably would petition the state supreme court to decide the constitutionality of the partial veto if an override attempt fails after the legislature reconvenes in October.
Richard Longabaugh, executive director of the economic development authority, said the bonds would not be issued until the Brewers arranged private financing for the team's $105 million share of the $140 million stadium. He added that the bonds would be backed by pledged skybox revenues and the state's moral obligation.
Dick Hackett, vice president of marketing for the Brewers, said the team probably would have its financing put together in the next six to nine months. He added that Bear, Stearns & Co. in Chicago and Robert W. Baird & Co. in Milwaukee are serving as financial advisers to the team.