Swearingen Likes State Budget; Senate Debating

Leigh Mccormick
September 17, 2017

The Wisconsin Assembly is debating a $3 billion incentive package to lure Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group to the state.

The electronics-maker could receive up to $2.85 billion in cash from state taxpayers under the deal, which would make it the largest incentive package for a foreign company in US history. One would make repeal of the prevailing wage for state construction projects effective immediately. The Senate doesn't plan to make any changes to the budget, either, Kapenga said.

A last-minute deal reached with Gov. Scott Walker and three holdout Republicans to pass the state budget Friday includes promises of vetoes to bring the reluctant lawmakers on board, one of the senators involved with the deal said. The budget was supposed to be done by July 1 but GOP infighting over road funding has delayed the process.

Since the budget passed without changes, it will go directly to Walker rather than back to the Senate.

Assembly Democrats, who didn't have the votes to stop it, slammed the proposal September 14 as being unfairly rigged to benefit Foxconn at the expense of taxpayers. She said Democrats remained united against the budget and had not been approached by Republican leadership to help broker a deal to pass it.

The Assembly passed the bill with all Republicans and four Democrats in support.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is defending the plan, saying that there is something for everyone to like in it, including tax cuts and more funding for K-12 public schools. Assembly Republicans made minor technical changes to the budget but didn't address any of the Senate Republican demands. They are Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca, Cory Mason, of Racine, and Tod Ohnstad, of Kenosha.

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Walker's office said he would also veto a tolling implementation study authorized in the budget, along with a provision that would have preempted local regulations on quarries.

Walker, who is in South Korea on a trade mission, has also been personally involved in trying to broker a deal, said his spokesman Tom Evenson.

Walker said he's willing, as part of the budget, to introduce more changes to how the Wisconsin Department of Transportation operates and expedite the effective date of the prevailing wage repeal.

Final sign-off by the Assembly sends the measure to the project's lead champion, Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Sen. Rob Cowles declined to say Tuesday if he backs the budget.

"Stop asking your hardworking constituents ... to line the pockets of billionaires", said Rep. Amanda Stuck, a Democrat.

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