Assembly Lawmakers Advance Foxconn Incentive Package

An Assembly committee Monday gave the green light to a package of incentives designed to convince Taiwanese electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn to build its first U.S. plant in Wisconsin.

The Republican-controlled Assembly Committee on Jobs and the Economy voted 8-5 along party lines to advance Gov. Scott Walker’s bill that provides Foxconn with nearly $3 billion in tax credits, exempts the company from a number of environmental regulations and spends $20 million in state funds on job training to ensure the state’s workforce is prepared to fill the 13,000 jobs the company has promised to create.

The full Assembly is scheduled to vote on the package Thursday.

Republicans said amendments to Walker’s bill that the committee adopted Monday have added some of the protections Democrats want. They included asking state officials negotiating the final contract with Foxconn to add a goal of hiring Wisconsin-based workers and making sure enough workers in the state are available to be hired and at a livable wage.

The amendments also call for providing $20 million to the Department of Workforce Development after 2019 for job training, requiring the state’s jobs agency to provide tax credits only for jobs that have a salary of at least $30,000 per year and allowing tax incremental financing funds to be used for fire, police and other government services.

The lawmakers also want state officials negotiating a final contract with Foxconn to emphasize that workers living in Wisconsin should be given preference for hiring. But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, has acknowledged that requiring that preference could be illegal.

If Foxconn fills a wetland during its construction process, Assembly lawmakers also want to require the creation of two wetlands in its place in the same watershed, if possible.

A spokesman for Walker did not say whether Walker supported the changes.“Governor Walker is working closely with the Legislature to advance this bill and he looks forward to signing it into law in the coming weeks,” spokesman Tom Evenson said.