Lawmakers debate Foxconn package in public hearing

Lawmakers continue to debate over the $3 billion incentives package needed to bring Foxconn to southeastern Wisconsin.

On Tuesday, the Joint Finance Committee took a public hearing to “Wisconn Valley.” Around 100 people attended an open meeting at Gateway Technical College in Sturtevant. The Joint Finance Committee said it wants to engage and hear from local residents who could be welcoming the giant employer to their community.

“I want to know if these jobs are going to pay a livable wage,” said Lawrence Terry.

Dozens also filled an overflow room to search for answers on where taxpayer dollars could be going.

“While I do support jobs, I’m worried about this deal.” said Jodi Muerhoff of Kenosha.

Muerhoff has concerns about the environmental impact of the proposed 20 million square foot facility. 

“There’s a lot of promises, but it doesn’t sound like there’s anything specific on paper,” she said. 

“There is no changes to air and water quality standards in this bill at all,” countered Joint Finance Committee Chairman John Nygren.

Last Thursday, the Wisconsin Assembly passed its version of the Foxconn Bill 59-30.  Flash forward five days, members of the Joint Finance Committee took turns quizzing the Wisconsin Department of Administration on the incentives package needed to bring the Taiwanese tech giant to southeastern Wisconsin.

“Who’s going to get the short end of the stick?,” said Rep. Gordon Hintz.

“Not us,” replied DOA Secretary Neitzel.

Hintz said he worries about Foxconn’s jobs commitment. He said Gov. Scott Walker claims the manufacturing plant would bring 13,000 jobs while Foxconn executives have been suggesting 3,000.

“If there are no jobs, there are no credits,” Nygren said.

Before the senate takes up the bill next month, several democrats and local residents suggest amendments. Sen. Lena Taylor would like to see diversity and transportation requirements.

“We don’t have those assurances in writing,” she said.” “My job is to get those assurances.”

The state’s agreement with Foxconn requires the incentives package bill to be turned into law by the end of September. State senators say they expect to get to work on the Foxconn Bill on Sept. 14.

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