The Wisconsin State Senate passed a $3 billion incentive package for Foxconn in a 20-13 vote after hours of debate Tuesday. Under the bill, if the Taiwanese company invests $10 billion in Wisconsin and employs 13,000 people, it will get $2.85 billion in cash payments over the next 15 years. In a statement, State Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee derided the bill as the largest state corporate welfare package to a foreign company in U.S. history.
State Sen. Robert Wirch, D-Kenosha, voted with the Republicans, and State Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, voted against the package with the Democrats.
“Weeks of work were committed to reviewing this package, but questions still remained,” Cowles said in a statement. “While I support our state promoting economic development, the incentives that Foxconn was presented were too steep, both financially and statutorily.”
n light of the bill, Kenosha’s mayor John Antaramian said in a letter to Gov. Scott Walker the city will no longer be an option for the plant’s factory.
“Throughout this planning process, we have been consistent in our belief that without significant adjustments to specific current state laws impacting local municipalities, we would be unable to support and/or absorb the development of the Project,” Antaramian said in the letter.
State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, argued Democrats were “shut out” from the beginning. Democrats introduced a number of amendments dealing with environmental and economic concerns, all of which did not pass.
“You can’t stand up and say there should be a strong bipartisan vote when every idea Democrats offered was shut down,” Erpenbach said. “You can’t expect us to say ‘good idea.’”
Democrats also raised concerns regarding the amount of money a foreign company is receiving from Wisconsin taxpayers when there are still unanswered questions and little public input.
State Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, said his constituents, both Republican and Democrat, brought up how they need more information and more time to decide.
“Choosing a foreign corporation over our Main Street businesses is a dangerous and desperate gamble,” Larson said in a statement. “From listening to my neighbors, it is abundantly clear that this proposal is a bad deal for Wisconsin.”
But Republicans argued Foxconn is a “win” for America and will bring “cutting edge technology” to the state, State Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, said.
State Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield, among other Republicans, called the decision “transformational” to describe the impacts of Foxconn on the state of Wisconsin.
“Today, we sent a message not just to Foxconn, but every other manufacturer of cutting-edge technology — Wisconsin should be your new home,” Wangaard said in a statement.
The bill now heads back to the state Assembly. If the bill passes the Assembly, it will go to Walker’s desk.