The Wisconsin Senate has approved almost $3 billion in cash payments for Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group.
The proposed subsidy for Foxconn to locate a flat-screen factory in Wisconsin would be the largest ever from a USA state to a foreign company and 10 times bigger than anything Wisconsin has extended to a private business.
The Assembly, which like the Senate is firmly in Republican control, takes a final vote Thursday. CEO Terry Gou and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a memorandum of understanding last month outlining the terms of the deal, which must be approved by the Legislature by September 30 to move forward.
Majority Republicans in the Senate approved the $3 billion in incentives, on a 20-13 vote Tuesday. It would maintain the appeals court role in any lawsuits filed over decisions related to the economic development zone where the project is located.
But the bill as advanced by committee last week would also have allowed legal challenges to the project to head directly from the local circuit court to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, skipping the appeals court.
Under the change, the Supreme Court would decide whether to keep the case or send it down to the appeals court for a decision first.
"This is bad for democracy, bad for our government, bad for the whole process", Democratic Sen.
The Wisconsin Senate planned to vote Tuesday on an amendment that would give the state Supreme Court the option to take an appeal, but it would not be required to hear it. The Supreme Court is controlled 5-2 by conservative justices.
The package would help Foxconn build a $10,000,000,000 manufacturing facility for LED panels in Southeast Wisconsin, which could create up to 13,000 jobs.
Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, appealed to her Democratic colleagues during Tuesday's debate.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told senators, as debate began Tuesday, that he's glad Senate Republicans "pumped the brakes" on taking up the Foxconn bill earlier this summer.
She said,"I'm against it, I do not believe in corporate welfare, I do not believe that putting the taxpayers at risk is a good deal at all for Wisconsin". Others would bar tax credits from being claimed for materials used to automate the facility or scrap proposed rollbacks in the bill of environmental protections for the Foxconn project.
Democrats say there aren't enough safeguards in the deal to protect taxpayers.
Another change to the bill would link as much as $1.35 billion in tax credits for Foxconn, those related to construction of the campus, to annual "job creation thresholds".
A second Republican amendment approved on Tuesday would scale back some significant changes to the legal process introduced and passed by the Joint Finance Committee last week.
The proposed subsidy would be the largest ever from a US state to a foreign company and 10 times bigger than anything Wisconsin has extended to a private business. Foxconn wants to open the factory by 2020 and initially employ 3,000 people.
"If it was the largest incentive package offered by the state, it's also, this is the largest investment by a foreign company in the United States in both terms of job creation and in terms of infrastructure", said Senator Roger Roth, an Appleton Republican.
Among the Democratic amendments rejected were measures to promote hiring Wisconsin workers, make all tax credits nonrefundable, prohibit WEDC from amending its contract with Foxconn and require the company to report on environmental impacts.
The Wisconsin Senate is poised to approve almost $3 billion in cash payments for Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group to locate a flat-screen factory in the state. It could also qualify for $150 million in sales-tax exemptions for construction equipment.
Democrats say state taxpayers are giving up too much under the agreement negotiated by Republican Gov. Scott Walker.