State News

State Senate approves $3 billion Foxconn incentive package

The State Senate approved the Foxconn bill Tuesday, moving it forward to the Assembly to take up on Thursday.

The state Senate voted 20-13 to pass the Foxconn incentive bill Tuesday nearly on party lines, with one Democrat supporting the legislation and one Republican opposing it.

The bill will now return to the State Assembly for a vote Thursday before Gov. Scott Walker signs the fiscal package.

Senate Republicans have been in almost unanimous support for the bill, touting the deal will be a game changer for the state economy by creating a minimum of 3,000 jobs with the potential of creating up to 13,000.

"If I was in another state, I would say you were nuts if you didn't take this deal,” said state Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, in a statement. “Forty-nine other states wish they were Wisconsin right now because they know advanced manufacturing is the wave of the future. It's going to create a whole different dynamic for our state.”

State Rep. Robert Wirch, D-Somers, was the only Democratic lawmaker to support the bill. Wirch represents both Kenosha and Racine, the likely location for the electronics plant.

Other Democrats and critics are concerned about the company’s ability to skirt environmental regulations as part of the deal. Foxconn would require a high quantity of water, with Lake Michigan as the likely source.

“It is unacceptable to exclude environmental regulations and change our legal system for a foreign company that all other Wisconsin businesses abide by,” said state Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee.

For some lawmakers, the deal also represents giving up too much for too little certainly around the exact number of jobs it will create.

“While I support our state promoting economic development, the incentives that Foxconn was presented were too steep, both financially and statutorily,” said state Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay.

Cowles, the sole Republican to oppose the bill, said that many uncertainties surrounding the bill were left unclear during the floor debate.

Despite some questions being left unanswered, Walker championed the Foxconn deal as an “amazing” win for Wisconsin for “opening the door to 13,000 good-paying, family-supporting jobs.”

Supporters have ensured that Foxconn won’t receive the full $3 billion incentives with $2.85 billion in cash payment until the company follows through on their promise of creating 13,000 jobs.

"If Foxconn doesn't build, they don't get the (tax) credits. If Foxconn doesn't hire employees, they won't get the credits," said state Sen. Frank Lasee, R-De Pere, to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "The only way we as taxpayers end up paying for this is if they actually deliver."

Regardless, the fiscal uncertainty has proven too much for some local governments hoping to house the massive plant.

Kenosha out of the running for Foxconn

The city of Kenosha will not be able to support the addition of the Foxconn factory, Mayor John Antaramian announced in a press release published Monday.

Antaramian said that the current deal would be too much of a financial burden on the city, namely in terms of how it would impact property taxes on the city’s residents.

As it stands, local governments can’t increase their tax levy by more than the cost of new construction in a current year. Construction of the factory is expected to cost $250 million, which depending on the location of the factory, would allow for a sizeable increase in property taxes on the given community.

In an August 28 interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Antaramian said he has, “no intention” of raising any taxes on the city of Kenosha or for Foxconn.

The City of Kenosha was one of the top options competing to house the factory.

The city’s withdrawal from consideration comes on the heels of state Rep. Peter Barca’s resignation as the Wisconsin Assembly Minority Leader. Barca, whose district covers both the Racine and Kenosha Counties, was one of three Assembly Democrats who supported the Foxconn incentive package during the August 17 vote.

Barca’s resignation came in part for his approval of Foxconn in his district, which his fellow Assembly Democrats did not support. 

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