Walker says he wants to give Foxconn a package of tax breaks and incentives worth three billion dollars over 15 years — but only if the jobs it promises materialize.
Foxconn says the plant will need 13 thousand workers. CEO Terry Gou estimates their investment will be worth 10 billion dollars.
“It starts today with this investment in Wisconsin,” Gou says.
Not everyone in the statehouse is convinced Foxconn deserves that deal. Senator Chris Larson says he wants to make sure a package that big goes to a company that shares Wisconsin’s values — like education, the environment and well paying jobs.
“Otherwise I worry we’re just open to extortion.” Larson says. “There’s a tendency by some of these larger companies to take everything they can … and then go.”
Representative Gordon Hintz is optimistic about the Foxconn deal, but hopes the incentive package comes with at least some requirements.
“We’ve got something on the table, but we want reassurances that these are going to be good paying jobs,” Hintz says.
But Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, who sits on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation board, which will work to negotiate the deal, says that kind of incentive is what’s needed to keep Foxconn in the state.
“Obviously it is a big economic incentive, but it’s also a huge plant,” Barca says. “It would be the largest direct foreign investment in US history.”
Larson says Foxconn’s side of the investment isn’t the only historic part of the deal — and that might not necessarily be a good thing.
“It’s a degree of corporate welfare I don’t think Wisconsin has ever experienced,” Larson says. “And I think a lot of people are taken aback by that.”
Hintz says lawmakers and the governor are going to have to make changes in order to keep Foxconn in Wisconsin.
“We know that the cuts to education have been devastating,” Hintz says. “The jobs we’re talking about here, they’re going to require four-year degrees.”
Walker says there will be a special legislative session to work out an incentives package in August. He says he wants to do this outside of the state budget process, which has still yet to be finalized.