State News

Details of Foxconn deal will not be made public until signing, arousing criticism

The corporation handling contract negotiations between Wisconsin and Taiwanese technology company Foxconn was under heat Wednesday after delaying a vote on the contract.

The terms of the $3 billion Foxconn contract will not be made available to the public until after the deal is signed, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation said Tuesday.

The state corporation is tasked with negotiating the contract between Wisconsin and the Taiwanese tech giant. A vote on the contract was delayed this week after WEDC found taxpayers wouldn’t be protected in the deal if Foxconn backed out or violated the contract.

Mark Hogan, CEO of WEDC, said he would not comment on the Foxconn contract due to the ongoing nature of the deal.

WEDC is on track to give the largest subsidy to a foreign company in U.S. history. Although it is not common practice to release details of negotiations before the board votes on them, lawmakers and government officials are calling on the corporation to do so.

Democratic lawmakers, most of whom voted against bringing Foxconn to the state, decried the level of transparency in the negotiations and questioned if WEDC can be trusted to make a deal with Foxconn that protects taxpayers.

WEDC has experienced internal issues since its inception. Most notably, it was uncovered in 2011 that the state corporation was giving out $126 million in loans without formal review.

“For the last six years, the WEDC has been incompetent and reckless with our tax dollars,” said state Rep. Jimmy Anderson, D-Fitchburg, in a statement. “Now they’re in the midst of secretive negotiations that may result in Foxconn getting to keep your taxpayer dollars should they violate the already flimsy agreement.”

In response to the criticisms, a spokesperson for Hogan emphasized that patience is key in the negotiations.

"There is no timeline for when the contract will be signed. We will take whatever time is necessary to develop a contract that is in the best interests of Wisconsin taxpayers," WEDC public affairs communication director, Mark Maley told the Associated Press.

The WEDC board can vote on the contract’s approval Nov. 8th. 

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