Wis­con­sin gov­er­nor calls spe­cial ses­sion on Fox­conn deal

El Dorado News-Times - - Market Place -

MADI­SON, Wis. (AP) — A wide ar­ray of Wis­con­sin en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions would be waived in an ef­fort to speed up con­struc­tion of a $10 bil­lion Fox­conn elec­tron­ics fac­tory un­der a pro­posal Gov. Scott Walker un­veiled Fri­day.

Walker called on the Repub­li­can­con­trolled Leg­is­la­ture to con­sider the mea­sure as early as Tues­day. It also would bor­row $252 mil­lion to fin­ish re­build­ing In­ter­state 94, which con­nects Mil­wau­kee with Chicago and runs near where the mas­sive dis­play panel fac­tory is ex­pected to be built.

The plant would be the first out­side of Asia to pro­duce liq­uid crys­tal dis­play mon­i­tors used in com­put­ers, tele­vi­sions and other ar­eas. Walker calls it a once-a-gen­er­a­tion op­por­tu­nity to trans­form Wis­con­sin's econ­omy.

The en­vi­sioned fac­tory, ex­pected to open in 2020, would be 20 mil­lion square feet on a cam­pus that spans 1.56-squaremiles in what Walker is call­ing the "Wis­conn Val­ley." It would ini­tially em­ploy 3,000 peo­ple, but the deal calls for that to grow to 13,000 within six years.

An ex­act lo­ca­tion has not been de­ter­mined, but Fox­conn is look­ing at sites in Racine and Kenosha coun­ties.

Walker took to the air on Fri­day in a cam­paign-style air­plane tour to make the case that the en­tire state would ben­e­fit from a plant three-times the size of the Pen­tagon.

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

Walker's tour also took him to La Crosse, Eau Claire and Wausau.

The bill Walker un­veiled Fri­day would al­low Fox­conn, with­out per­mits, to dis­charge dredged ma­te­ri­als, fill wet­lands, change the course of streams, build ar­ti­fi­cial bod­ies of wa­ter that con­nect with nat­u­ral wa­ter­ways and build on a riverbed or lakebed.

Fox­conn would also be ex­empt from hav­ing to cre­ate a state en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact state­ment, some­thing re­quired for much smaller projects.

A num­ber of en­vi­ron­men­tal groups did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

Lob­by­ist Bill McCoshen, who helped ne­go­ti­ate eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment deals in Gov. Tommy Thomp­son's ad­min­is­tra­tion, said bi­par­ti­san sup­port for the project should help ease the bill's pas­sage.

Demo­cratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Bald­win at­tended Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump's White House an­nounce­ment of the deal on Wed­nes­day and two-time Walker chal­lenger Demo­cratic Mil­wau­kee Mayor Tom Bar­rett praised it at a sign­ing event on Thurs­day. Other Demo­cratic law­mak­ers have spo­ken in sup­port.

Be­cause Wis­con­sin al­ready waives all taxes on man­u­fac­tur­ing cred­its in the state, the in­cen­tives for Fox­conn would be paid as cash up to $200 mil­lion a year rather than a credit against taxes owed. They would be pro-rated based on job cre­ation and money spent by Fox­conn and could be re­couped if jobs are lost.

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