According to the Wall Street Journal, a decision by Foxconn is expected “soon” on whether they will place their new manufacturing facility in Wisconsin. WISN’s Mark Belling says we can expect an announcement Thursday that Wisconsin will be getting the plant. The proposed manufacturing facility could bring 10,000 jobs to the Racine-Kenosha area.
But what does the Foxconn deal say? (Yes, we went there.) Any deal that is worked out between Wisconsin and Foxconn will have to be looked at carefully to make sure state taxpayers aren’t getting robbed. In an ideal world, no company would ever receive a subsidy for building a factory. But mortal man does not live in the ideal world, and there is competition for these jobs – not just between the states but globally as well.
We already know that whatever is being negotiated in the memo of understanding between Wisconsin and Foxconn will have an impact on future state budgets. As the Assembly GOP letter to Governor Scott Walker indicated, using the $203 million for transportation spending instead of tax cuts in this budget cycle would mean that money would still be available in the next budget cycle to cover the costs of the Foxconn deal.
And then there are the infrastructure costs. What kind of transportation needs will the factory have? How will workers get to the new Foxconn plant? Where will the land come from? What freeway and infrastructure improvements will need to be made?
When all of the details of the deal are revealed, we’ll be able to judge whether it’s worth it.
Of course, when evaluating the deal, it isn’t just the jobs created by the factory that needs to be considered. There will be thousands of jobs created just to support such a huge manufacturing facility and its workers. Everything from suppliers for the factory to the nearby services such as restaurants and hotels will all need workers.
Finally, there’s the political impact. Democrats were already going to have a tough time of unseating Walker in next year’s election so long as the unemployment rate sits at a 17-year-low. Now Wisconsin could be adding thousands of jobs to the state’s economy, even while the state’s taxes continue to go down.
Businessman Andy Gronik has already declared as a Democratic candidate for governor, and DPI Superintendent Tony Evers is considering it. Long time political observer Brian Fraley asked on Twitter, “If Foxconn announces on Thursday it’s coming to Wisconsin, do Evers and Gronik bow out Friday or do they hang in til the weekend? #Walker18”
Democrats have to know that the Foxconn deal is bad for them politically. Expect them to complain about the cost of the deal, the quality of the jobs, even the impact on the environment. But any criticisms they make have to been seen through the filter of the knowledge they are only acting in their self-interest to belittle (or even derail) this accomplishment to prevent Walker and House Speaker Paul Ryan from receiving the credit. But it appears likely their complaints will be drowned out by the cheers at the Foxconn plant’s ribbon cutting ceremony.