Wisconsin Gov. Makes Deal With Tribe to Close Debt

In a deal Gov. Jim Doyle had been counting on to help fix a massive budget deficit, the Oneida Tribe of Indians agreed to pay the state $58 million over three years in exchange for a permanent gambling compact that allows it more games and higher betting limits.

The Oneida reached the agreement just minutes before Doyle delivered his budget address Tuesday. Tribal officials announced it Wednesday.

Doyle's budget relies on $237 million in additional payments to the state from all its tribal compacts to help close Wisconsin's $3.2 billion budget deficit for the period through June 2005.

"We ought to be very grateful to the tribes for supporting the state in these difficult times," said state Department of Administration secretary Marc Marotta.

The Oneida's perpetual compact would be the first of its kind in Wisconsin, Marotta said.

Unlike other compacts, it would not require renegotiation every five years. After paying $58 million in the first three years, the tribe would pay a percentage of casino earnings. That 4 or 5 percent would still be higher than the $4.85 million the tribe pays now, Oneida Nation chairwoman Cristina Danforth said.

Marotta said he was trying to broker similar compacts with other Wisconsin tribes.