Wisconsin works to lure Foxconn to state; “We are disconnected from what Michigan’s doing”

MADISON — In a decision that could end the three-week impasse over the state budget, Assembly Republicans said Thursday that they have accepted Gov. Scott Walker's latest offer to shift more funding into state road projects.

The move comes as lawmakers express urgency about getting the budget passed and retaining enough flexibility for a major incentives package to lure Taiwanese electronics maker Foxconn to the state.

Walker's proposal, which he made to the top Republicans in the Assembly and Senate during a private meeting Wednesday, includes scrapping a modest income tax cut and freeing up $200 million to spend on transportation. Assembly Republicans for months have been calling for additional spending on roads and have rejected previous proposals from Walker and the state Senate to borrow more money.

Gov. Scott Walker

"This allows us to get to a reasonable compromise; to get a budget passed," said Gov. Walker. "I'm hoping the Senate will either outright embrace this or come back with a modest alternative."

"The proposal you outlined yesterday is a positive step forward in our desire to find a long-term solution and we believe the leadership that you have displayed has bridged the gap between our two houses," Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and other top Assembly Republicans wrote in a letter to Walker.

Senate Republicans discussed Walker's proposal at a caucus meeting Thursday afternoon, said Myranda Tanck, a spokeswoman for Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

Wisconsin's new budget year started July 1 but state lawmakers have been unable to agree on a budget. A transportation deal would set the stage for a final budget agreement in the coming weeks.

Foxconn

Meanwhile, lawmakers have their eyes trained on attracting Foxconn, which makes components for iPhones and flat-panel TVs and is considering building one or more U.S. plants.

State Rep. John Nygren, a co-chair of the Legislature’s Finance committee, tells FOX6 News that a deal with Foxconn could happen within the next two weeks but that negotiations are fluid because the company may have an agreement with another state soon.

Nygren said Gov. Scott Walker’s office and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation are handling the negotiations on an incentives package with Foxconn.

"We do not have a specific proposal on the table. Anything that's being talked about right now is purely speculative," Gov. Walker said.

Michigan created a $200 million tax incentives program last week, meaning that tens of millions of dollars could go to Foxconn if it builds a facility in Michigan. It’s been widely reported that a deal with one state wouldn’t rule out Foxconn also building second facility in another state.

Gov. Scott Walker

"We are disconnected from what Michigan's doing. What Michigan's doing is irrelevant to what we're doing," Walker said.

Speculation has grown that Foxconn is considering a location in Racine County. Nygren said a Wisconsin incentives package would not be included in the state budget, but that lawmakers needed to create “flexibility” in the budget for incentives later.