Foxconn bill amendment includes $20 million for worker training

Assembly committee to vote Monday

Foxconn products on display at Waukesha County Technical College.

State Assembly Republicans unveiled the amendment they plan to add to the Foxconn bill, which will be reviewed by the Committee on Jobs and the Economy on Monday.

A full Assembly floor session is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 17.

Foxconn products were recently on display at Waukesha County Technical College.

The amendment to the Foxconn bill unveiled Friday includes $20 million to the Department of Workforce Development for worker training. The bill instructs the DWD to work with universities, colleges, technical schools and non-profit organizations to come up with a plan to facilitate worker training for suppliers, vendors and companies impacted by the employment at Foxconn. It also directs the UW System and technical colleges to look for ways to cooperate to provide comprehensive electronic manufacturing training.

Foxconn plans to build a $10 billion complex in southeastern Wisconsin to manufacturing LCD panels, that could eventually employ 13,000 people. To attract the Taiwan-based company, Gov. Scott Walker is offering a $3 billion incentive package, contingent on the company’s hiring and capital investment. The deal is subject to approval by the Legislature.

The amendment to the Assembly’s Foxconn bill also:

  • Directs the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. to hire a full-time electronics manufacturing small business development director.
  • Instructs WEDC to put language in the final contract with Foxconn to promote Wisconsin workers when practically possible.
  • Specifies areas the Department of Natural Resources must maintain environmental oversight of the project.
  • Directs the DNR to identify and consider wetland mitigation solutions.
  • Adds Joint Finance Committee oversight for transportation bonding to expand I-94 for the project.
  • Permits the use of tax incremental financing for fire and police services.
  • Authorizes the use of local sales tax revenue bonds.
  • Indicates tax credits will not apply until a job is created with a minimum salary of $30,000 a year.

“The ideas put forward today in the amendment reflect our commitment to our constituents to bring the best bill forward that protects taxpayers and our natural resources while preparing Wisconsin for the biggest economic development in state history,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said. “We have been thorough and deliberate in our analysis of the public testimony and the legislation before us. This amendment addresses the needs of the local units of government, increases worker training opportunities, and tightens the bill language to ensure Wisconsin has the best deal that will bring the most return on investment.”

Some Democrats have complained that Republicans are rushing the Foxconn bill through.

“It’s remarkable that with a vote scheduled for Monday, we just received the Republican amendment. The legislature and the public will have little to no time to review these changes,” said Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha. “It’s clear that Republicans are trying to rush through the process to avoid as much scrutiny as possible. We need strong protections for Wisconsin workers, contractors, and local communities for this deal to work. We also need to know that our environment is protected and that we have strong measures that allow us to get our money back if Foxconn has a change in business plans or is unable to deliver. It’s clear that Republicans are trying to appear proactive without actually fixing the concerns that many people have with this bill.”

The state Senate on Thursday formally introduced its version of the Foxconn bill and referred it to the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee.

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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