Story by WRN/Andrew Beckett
State lawmakers will open a special session today to take up a proposed incentive package for Foxconn, although a vote on the bill is not expected to take place until later this month.
The proposal includes $3 billion in tax breaks for the electronics maker, along with changes in state law aimed at helping Foxconn build a facility in southeastern Wisconsin that could eventually employ up to 13,000 people. It’s the result of negotiations between Governor Scott Walker and company executives.
Members of both chambers are expected to meet today in closed-door caucuses. Assembly Republican Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) says the bill could receive a hearing later this week, with a vote possible by mid-August. “We just want to make sure that all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed, and everything is in the best interest of the people of the state,” he says.
Aspects of the bill are likely to see some pushback from Democrats in the Legislature, such as changes to environmental permit requirements and wetland protections.
In a column released Monday, Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) also questioned the high price tag the state could be paying for the jobs Foxconn says it will create. “At a salary of $30,000 in Racine for 3,000 jobs, the state would be paying all the salary of the workers for 15 years at a cost of $90 million a year. At $3 billion in state dollars, the state will be paying a million per job – more than the total cost of all the new jobs,” she wrote.
Vinehout is currently considering a run for governor next year.
While Steineke expects Republican lawmakers will have questions about some aspects of the package, he does not anticipate any major changes to the proposal. “We want to scrutinize the deal and make sure it’s good for the people of Wisconsin, but we also need to realize that a lot of the details are pretty well negotiated already and we may not have a lot of wiggle room within that.”