Story by WRN/Andrew Beckett
A proposed $3 billion incentive package for Foxconn now includes changes to how legal challenges to the company’s proposed factory will be handled in Wisconsin.
An amendment to the bill adopted Tuesday by the Joint Finance Committee would give the state Supreme Court jurisdiction for appeals of any circuit court ruling for development inside the special manufacturing zone that would house the proposed southeastern Wisconsin plant.
Democrats criticized the move as giving preferential treatment to the company. Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) described as “rigging the game” at a time when there should be more accountability and oversight.
Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) defended the change as helping both sides of any dispute related to the proposed factory. “It’s an advantage to both sides, because then they have the ability to have their day in court…and then either side not liking that first ruling can directly go to the court of last resort, save time, save money,” he said.
Republicans defended the bill and proposed changes as essential to the process of convincing Foxconn to make a $10 billion investment in the state that could lead to the creation of 13,000 jobs. Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), a co-chair of the committee, said that investment has the potential to bring billions of additional dollars to the state. “Looking at risks and reward, economically, if I were from another state I would say ‘Wisconsin, you are nuts if you don’t take this offer.’”
Democrats argued there are a lack of guarantees the Foxconn will deliver on the promised jobs, while pointing to a state report that shows it could take until 2043 before the state breaks even on the deal. “Under the best case scenario, it’s going to take 25 years to get that investment back,” said Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh).
The amended bill passed the Republican-controlled committee on a 12-4 party line vote. It could get a vote in the state Senate as early as next week. If passed there, it would head back to the Assembly, where the chamber would have to concur with the changes made Tuesday.