Politics

Here's where the Democratic candidates for governor stand on Foxconn deal

Here's where the Democratic...

The Foxconn deal is a plan Gov. Scott Walker has called “transformative.” The $3 billion deal would bring a $10 billion Foxconn manufacturing plant to southeast Wisconsin. But Walker’s Democratic challengers in the upcoming election aren’t sold.

On Thursday, Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik was at a WisPolitics.com luncheon answering questions. He said if he had to vote on the Foxconn deal today, he’d vote no. But he added that he doesn’t yet have enough information to make an informed decision.

“Right now, there’s not enough information before the State of Wisconsin for the people to actually have an understanding of what’s happening,” Gronik said. “The deal, as structured, as reviewed by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau does not provide enough information to make a $3 billion bet on behalf of the State of Wisconsin. If I had to make a decision, based upon the information that was available right now, I’d say no.”

To boost the state’s economy, Gronik said we need to recruit young college graduates. He proposed waiving income tax for recent college graduates who work and live in Wisconsin for a minimum of six months, and instead using that money to help them pay off college debt.

“That’s an idea I would like to bring forward to the State of Wisconsin to recruit young people to our state,” he said. “We look at young graduates, bringing young graduates, future business leaders, future job creators back to the state. It’s a pretty no-brainer proposal.”

In an interview Thursday, State Representative Dana Wachs called Foxconn a “terrible deal,” and said he’s very much against it. Wachs said he feels the deal is being rushed through the legislature and isn’t going to benefit taxpayers for years.

“Anytime, in my history in practicing law, anytime anybody’s trying to rush a deal you should hit the brakes and take a good, hard look at just why they’re trying to rush it through,” he said. “From what I’ve seen, it’s a terrible deal for taxpayers. In the best case scenario, which I think is nearly impossible, the tax payers only recoup on their investment beginning in 2043.”

Wachs added giving Foxconn a break on environmental standards is a slippery slope and other companies eyeing Wisconsin will want the same deal. He said instead the state should be investing in home grown businesses.

“Like has been done in Eau Claire. We need to invest in businesses that grow here and start here because they’re going to stay here and they’re going to induce other folks to come to Wisconsin,” he said.

State Superintendent Tony Evers, who announced his candidacy Wednesday, also said Foxconn won’t benefit taxpayers and doesn’t trust the company to follow through on its promises.

“Let’s be crystal clear about what this deal does,” he wrote on his campaign’s Facebook page. “Governor Walker is proposing to hand over nearly $3 billion in cash to a foreign corporation that has repeatedly failed to keep its promises. It’s a bad deal for Wisconsin tax payers who expect to see their hard-earned money used to fund our schools and roads, not given away to a company in Taiwan.”

During his announcement speech, Evers pointed to Epic in Verona as an example of the companies he thinks the state should be investing in. Instead, Evers believes more money should be put into schools.

“Investing in schools and investing in people will bring jobs to Wisconsin. If we invest in public education, and I’m talking K-12, technical colleges, and the university system, new jobs and industries will come. And they’ll come without having to write a billion dollar check to foreign corporations,” he said.

Madison businesswoman Michele Doolan and software engineer Bob Harlow have announced their runs for governor. Both have expressed doubts on the Foxconn plan. Harlow has started a campaign urging the Senate to vote no on the incentive package.

Gov. Walker has said Foxconn is a sound plan that would build family-supporting jobs and has called it an “historic opportunity.” While Democratic candidates have thrown around the idea of renegotiating the deal, Walker responded in a Tweet on Wednesday saying that would make 49 other governors happy.


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