Democrats call for movement on Kenosha casino
Potawatomi withholding state payment as a safety net
MADISON -- Governor Walker has to make a decision on a new casino in Kenosha by February 19th. Democrats say the casino would create at least 3,500 permanent jobs in the Kenosha and Racine area, that's why they're asking Governor Walker to act now.
This comes despite the Potawatomi tribe holding back its payment to the state. Because of a deal made nine years ago, it's money the tribe says it would be legally entitled to keep if a casino goes up in Kenosha.
Democratic legislators are critical of Governor Walker and how he's handled the Kenosha casino decision over the last year.
"I think this can only be characterized as a failure of leadership by our governor." said Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Kenosha).
In a letter sent to lawmakers Tuesday, Walker explained former Governor Jim Doyle made compacts with the tribes that allows them to be reimbursed for lost revenue by the state if a new casino is built. Walker wrote those compacts, "could lead to a significant financial problem for the State of Wisconsin if a casino is approved in Kenosha before we have reached agreements with the impacted tribes."
"He should've been actively bringing the parties together a year ago after he got the BIA approval." Wirch said.
"If the governor sits in the room across the table... you're going to get a lot more accomplished compared to secretary of DOA." said State Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha).
In the letter Walker wrote to legislators, he says he asked the Department of Administration secretary to meet with the tribes, but doesn't mention a plan to personally meet with them. Walker also forwarded a letter from the D.O.A. secretary which identifies the Potawatomi tribe as the furthest from a deal. With the Ho-Chunk Nation agreeing, and Lac du Flambeau waiving its claim to withhold money from the state.
A spokesperson for Mary Burke sent a statement where Burke says, "I've been clear from the start - my first move would have been to call for an independent analysis of the Kenosha casino proposal."
That statement did not say if Burke would approve or deny the Kenosha casino.