Wis­con­sin chief says $3B bid for Fox­conn wasn’t top U.S. of­fer

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BUSINESS & FARM - IVAN MORENO AND SCOTT BAUER

MIL­WAU­KEE — At least one other state of­fered Fox­conn more than the $3 bil­lion in­cen­tives pack­age Wis­con­sin used to lure a plant that will be the elec­tron­ics gi­ant’s first in the U.S., Gov. Scott Walker said Tues­day.

Walker said “at least one if not sev­eral other states” were pre­pared to give the Tai­wan­based com­pany more money, al­though the gov­er­nor added “it wasn’t a huge gap.” He didn’t in­di­cate which state or states topped the of­fer or sig­nal how he learned about it.

Fox­conn also con­sid­ered sites in Michi­gan, Illi­nois, In­di­ana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. The com­pany said in a news re­lease last week when it an­nounced that Wis­con­sin had been se­lected that it was the first of sev­eral ex­pected in­vest­ments in the coun­try.

The com­pany is ex­pected to in­vest $10 bil­lion in the plant, which will pro­duce liq­uid-crystal dis­play pan­els that are used in tele­vi­sions and com­puter screens, with the po­ten­tial for 13,000 jobs cre­ated in south­east­ern Wis­con­sin.

Walker’s com­ments came be­fore he was set to meet pri­vately with Repub­li­can state law­mak­ers as the Repub­li­can­con­trolled Leg­is­la­ture be­gan its process for con­sid­er­ing the tax break bill. A pub­lic hear­ing on the mea­sure was ex­pected later in the week, with votes in the Leg­is­la­ture as soon as next week.

The dis­cus­sions over Fox­conn are hap­pen­ing at the same time law­mak­ers are try-

ing to reach a deal on a new two-year state bud­get, which is a month over­due. Walker said he wants “to see progress on the bud­get run par­al­lel to” the work on Fox­conn. The in­cen­tives pack­age needs to be fi­nal­ized by Sept. 30 and while the bud­get is late, state spend­ing con­tin­ues at cur­rent lev­els un­til there is a new deal.

The Fox­conn bill in­cludes $252 mil­lion in new bor­row­ing backed by the state’s general fund to pay for re­build­ing In­ter­state 94, which con­nects Mil­wau­kee to Chicago and would run near where the Fox­conn plant is con­sid­er­ing build­ing. Road fund­ing, in­clud­ing how much to bor­row for pro­jects like the I-94 work, has been the big­gest snag in reach­ing a bud­get deal.

The state could only spend money from the bor­row­ing if it re­ceives ad­di­tional fed­eral money for the I-94 work, which Walker has pre­vi­ously said he would seek.

The mea­sure also com­mits the state to pay­ing 40 per­cent of lo­cal gov­ern­ments’ ex­penses in build­ing in­fra­struc­ture such as roads and sew­ers for the plant “if ever called upon to do so.” The com­mit­ment would kick in only if the state Depart­ment of Ad­min­is­tra­tion sec­re­tary had ap­proved the lo­cal gov­ern­ment spend­ing be­fore it takes place.

Con­cerns have been raised both about the cost to tax­pay­ers and other pro­vi­sions de­signed to ac­com­mo­date Fox­conn, like the waiv­ing of nu­mer­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal per­mit­ting re­quire­ments and other reg­u­la­tions.

But Walker in­sisted Tues­day that the com­pany still has “to abide by all the rules of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in the same way they have to abide by the laws of the state.”

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