By James Wigderson, special to Media Trackers
State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), a co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, said she does not think there will be substantial changes to the Foxconn bill that was passed by the state Assembly on Thursday.
“I think the Assembly really dug into it and made sure that there were some good amendments,” Darling, told Mike Gousha in an interview on UpFront on Sunday. “We haven’t decided whether we’re going to accept them or not, or add additional ones.”
“But I know the Democrats will be offering amendments and we’ll be very interested in what they have to offer,” Darling said.
The Foxconn bill would create an enterprise zone that would allow the state to give up to $3 billion in tax credits in exchange for the creation of 13,000 jobs and the investment by Foxconn of $10 billion in infrastructure. The total amount of the tax credits would be dependent on Foxconn meeting the personnel and capital investment targets.
The enterprise zone, to be known as “Wisconn Valley,” is likely to end up in either Racine or Kenosha County. The manufacturing facility will make 8k flat LCD screens for televisions and other applications. It would be the largest single investment by a company in Wisconsin history and one of the largest in the country.
The bill passed the state Assembly 59-30 on a mostly partly-line vote. The bill was sent to the state Senate which sent the bill to the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. The Joint Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on Tuesday in Sturtevant, WI, near where the manufacturing plant may be located. The committee is expected to act on the legislation on Thursday.
When asked if the legislature has had enough time to look at the bill, Darling told Gousha that with the background they’ve been given from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau and other experts, “I feel that we’ve had a very good chance to look in the weeds and to see if this is a good deal for the taxpayers or isn’t it.”
“I think that the bill is very simple and, what people don’t understand, we’re not throwing out $3 billion,” Darling said. “We’re saying it’s going to be a performance based tax credit. So for every job that’s worth a certain amount of money there can be a tax credit.”
“The only thing not attached to jobs is the sales tax exemption,” Darling said. “But we wouldn’t have their money if they weren’t here.”
Darling said she thought very few of her colleagues are considering voting against the bill. “They realize how thoughtful this process has been,” Darling said. “We have spent a lot of time going over the documents that we have and there have been independent impact research on these issues as well.”
“But the basic question is: Is this good for the taxpayer or not?” Daling said. “And one study tells us that impact is a $78 billion economic development impact over 15 years. Beyond that, there are going to be many many many ripple effects.”
Asked about the impact on other state budget priorities in the future, Darling said, “But the economic impact is what we have to see. And we’re not going to give out any cash, especially for half of it at least, unless there are jobs created.”
Darling also told Gousha that the state budget and Foxconn can be worked on at the same time. “We hope we get to make decisions on education on the 28th of this month so schools can know going into the school year what their budgets are,” Darling said. “We’re very close on every part of the budget, even transportation.”