State News

State agency's board will review entire Foxconn contract after pressure from lawmakers

Chancellor Rebecca Blank confirmed that this is one of the largest gifts UW-Madison has received towards research programs and the university as a whole. 

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A state agency announced Friday that its members will be able to review the state’s $3 billion contract with Foxconn before the agency votes on the matter this coming Wednesday.

Until Friday, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation said its board would only receive a staff report summarizing the deal. But after pressure from lawmakers and government officials, WEDC changed its tune.

Giving the board a summary, rather than the entire contract, is routine when dealing with agency contracts — it is not common practice to release details of negotiations before the board votes on them. However, because of the size and complexity of the Foxconn contract, board members will now be able to view all details of the deal.

Mark Hogan, WEDC’s chief executive, wrote in a letter to board members on Friday that “given we are very close on the contract language, and given the size of the award, now is the appropriate time to make it available to you as board members.”

WEDC is the agency that negotiates the contract between the state of Wisconsin and Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer. After the deal is signed, the contract will be made available to the public.

It was announced in July that Foxconn would invest $10 billion into Wisconsin’s economy to build a new plant in the southeastern part of the state. Company officials said it could create up to 13,000 jobs. In exchange, the state is providing the company with $3 billion in financial incentives, Wisconsin’s largest subsidy for a business ever.

The deal has received mixed support since its announcement. In July, UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank called the deal a “major leap forward for our state’s economy.” UW System President Ray Cross said he feels “the UW System and Wisconsin are fully prepared to support a global enterprise like Foxconn.”

But Democrats in the state Legislature felt differently, and the deal passed with nearly no Democratic support.

“Giving $3 billion to a foreign corporation with a terrible record of keeping its promises is a political stunt that will harm Wisconsin for a generation,” Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Mark Miller, D-Monona, said.

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