The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation approved a contract Wednesday subsidizing $3 billion to Taiwanese technology company Foxconn.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the contract was passed in a closed-session meeting of the WEDC board. In a final vote of 8-2, only Rep. Dana Wachs, D-Eau Claire, and Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, opposed the deal.
Wednesday’s approval marks the end of a more than three contentious months of negotiations between WEDC and Foxconn.
Before the WEDC board went into closed session, protesters at the meeting expressed their opposition to a deal which they believe hurts Wisconsin businesses and offers too many benefits to a company with a history of human rights abuses.
In the approved contract, which was not available to the public, greater requirements for job creation were added from an earlier deal between WEDC and Foxconn.
In the deal, the company will collect more than $1.3 billion in tax credits if it creates 8,450 jobs by 2025. Additionally, the company will collect $1.5 billion in tax credits if it is able to create 13,000 jobs by 2022 and maintain that number throughout the following decade.
Foxconn announces plans to build factory in Racine CountyTaiwanese technology company Foxconn announced Wednesday its intention to build a long-awaited electronics factory in the Racine County village of Read…
According to the terms of the deal, these jobs must pay at least $30,000 per year and must meet an annual average more than $53,000.
Starting next year, the company will be able to collect $10 million in job credits if it creates 1,040 jobs for the state. The company will continue to receive job credits if it is able to continue creating jobs in following years.
Mark Hogan, head of WEDC, said the added job requirements and parameters were always going to be added and were unrelated to recent protests and pushback over the initial deal.
But, changes to the contract were made on Friday, leaving little time for lawmakers and other officials to review them before Wednesday’s meeting.
Protesters stay in WEDC meeting despite leaders calling to go into closed session. Protesters demand to see Foxconn contract before vote. pic.twitter.com/xpfrX4hsFY
— Ben Jordan (@BenJordan3) November 8, 2017
In a statement, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning criticized the short period of time WEDC had to review the new terms of the contract, calling it fiscally irresponsible.
“Today Walker’s WEDC board approved the largest handout to a foreign corporation in U.S. history with forty-eight hours to review a tiny summary of the contract,” Laning said in the statement. “This is fiscal irresponsibility at its peak.”
The company’s founder, Terry Gou, offered a personal guarantee of $500 million to stand by these job requirements. Gou, a billionaire businessman and one of the wealthiest men in the world, has said he will personally back up the deal should it fall through.
The contract also includes clauses which allow the state to reclaim certain benefits if an independent accountant finds the company to have reported false information or if the company ceases operations in the state.
According to estimates, WEDC’s contract with Foxconn is expected to bring 13,000 jobs and more than $10 billion in investment to Wisconsin, statistics which make it the largest instance of foreign direct investment in U.S. history.
These 13,000 jobs will primarily be found in a large flat-screen television factory, which will be built in the Racine County village of Mount Pleasant sometime next year.
According to current plans, the factory will be 20 million square feet, making it the largest factory in Wisconsin and one of the largest in the world.
In a statement, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, has pointed to this factory and the expected benefits it will bring as reasons for his support.
“The manufacturing plant will provide thousands of new, good-paying jobs and spur economic growth throughout our state,” Vos said in the statement.
Many Democrats, however, are skeptical of the projected economic benefits the Foxconn deal will bring to the state, and believe the incentives offered to the company in exchange for its Mount Pleasant factory are excessive.
In a statement, Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, said the $3 billion subsidy package will leave the state hurting financially for decades.
“Wisconsin will not break even on the $3 billion giveaway to Foxconn until 2043 at the earliest,” Carpenter said.
On Friday, Governor Scott Walker will sign the deal with Gou. After that, construction on the factory can begin and public negotiation over contractual terms will officially end.