Assembly speaker wants public hearing on Foxconn incentives bill this week: “Worth taking that step”

MADISON -- The $3 billion Foxconn bill is public, and one top Wisconsin lawmaker wants to move forward later this week so Foxconn can start building its giant plant in SE Wisconsin this year.

After the cheers died down at the White House last week, Governor Scott Walker released the 34-page incentives package that is key to nabbing Foxconn and the promise of up to 13,000 jobs. It's the biggest deal Wisconsin has ever made, and for Republicans, it's a good one.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos

"I certainly think that for bringing in a transformational company like Foxconn, it's worth taking that step to the next level," Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said.

The state would pay Foxconn 17 cents for every dollar many Foxconn employees will make -- more than double what the state has given companies in other deals. The bill would also commit a quarter-billion dollars to rebuild I-94 south of Milwaukee, and it would allow Foxconn to discharge material into wetlands without a permit, though the company would sometimes need a federal permit.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca

Vos said he hopes to hold a public hearing on the bill this week, and the chamber's top Democrat, Minority Leader Peter Barca, is supportive.

"I think it's very good to see the exciting opportunity it clearly presents, but the numbers have to work," Barca said.

Barca is from Kenosha County, which along with Racine County, is in the running for the plant. Other Democrats say the tax breaks are too big.

Governor Scott Walker

"There's a whole lot of people out there scrambling to try and come up with some reason not to like this. I can tell it's fine, but I think, you know, they can go suck lemons. The rest of us are going to cheer and figure out how we get this thing going forward," Governor Scott Walker said.

The tax breaks are tied to performance, meaning the taxpayers don't pay if Foxconn doesn't deliver.

Both Barca and Vos said they expect Foxconn to follow through, avoiding a repeat of what happened in Pennsylvania four years ago when the company made a big announcement that didn't come to fruition.