Governor Scott Walker says the decision by the Potawatomi tribe to withhold its annual payment to the state underscores the importance of a review of a proposed Kenosha casino and the money it could end up costing the state.
The Potawatomi failed to make a June payment to the state of about $25 million, arguing that it would be entitled to have the money returned anyway if the governor approves the Menominee tribe’s casino project. The money was put into a reserve, while Walker continues to review the proposed Kenosha project.
The governor’s office released a memo this week indicating that the decision to withhold the payment is already having an impact on the state budget, and Walker told reporters in the Green Bay area Wednesday that it could create a significant hole going forward if the state has to repay more money to the tribe. If he approves the casino, Walker says the Potawatomi believe they could demand refunds for past payments, totaling around $100 million. He says “it would provide a sizeable hole in the budget and I don’t think, for the majority of us, no matter what people may think for or against that particular site, I think there would be a really big concern to the rest of the state if something close to a $100 million hole was put in the budget.”
Walker says he’ll take as much time as he can to make a decision on the Kenosha casino. The deadline is in mid-February.
Meanwhile, the latest Marquette University law school poll shows 49 percent of respondents are on board with the new casino proposal and 35 percent oppose it.