MADISON — The Wisconsin Assembly Thursday, August 17th approved a $3 billion tax break Thursday, August 17th for Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group to build a massive LCD display panel factory in the state, a project President Donald Trump touted as a transformational win for the U.S. economy. The vote is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Leading up to the 59-30 vote, there was debate at the Capitol for hours.
Republicans who make up the majority were hoping for bipartisan support of the bill, and Thursday evening, it appeared they got it:
During hours of back and forth on the Assembly floor, Republicans and Democrats debated the bill that would allow Wisconsin to give Foxconn $3 billion worth of tax credits to build a facility in the state -- in Racine or Kenosha County.
While supporters say the facility will create 13,000 jobs, critics worry that number isn't guaranteed, and say it would take 25 years at best for the state to make its money back.
"We want to make sure it's Wisconsin businesses, Wisconsin contractors and Wisconsin workers that get the benefit if they're going to shell out $3 billion," said Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca.
This vote comes exactly three weeks since Governor Scott Walker and President Donald Trump announced the Taiwanese tech company would build a $10 billion facility in the state to manufacture LCD panels for TVs and computers.
"Are you worried more about workers being trained because so many jobs are being created, or are you worried more about the rhetoric of finding any reason you can to be a naysayer for the largest economic development project in our state's history?" said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.
Democrats call the deal way too expensive for a state that has already faced cuts.
"A vote for Foxconn is a vote against education. A vote against Foxconn is a vote against our environment," said State Representative Jonathan Brostoff, (D-Milwaukee).
Republicans call the plan a once-in-a-lifetime chance.
"We need these opportunities. We need these careers. We need them in this corner of the state," said State Representative Thomas Weatherston, (R-Milwaukee).
Despite the pushback from Democrats, they didn't have the votes to stop the incentive package. Republican leaders said they're eager to move the project forward.
The measure must also clear the Senate, but Republicans there have indicated they may want to make changes. If that happens, the Assembly would have to vote on it again.
The agreement with Foxconn calls for the state to approve the incentive package and secure the roughly 1.56 square miles (4.04 square kilometers) of land for the deal by the end of September.