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World & Nation

Wisconsin’s offer to Foxconn increased substantially, handwritten deal shows

Scott Walker

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks about the Foxconn deal on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, at the Chippewa Valley Technical College Energy Education Center in Eau Claire, Wis.

(Marisa Wojcik / AP)
Associated Press

Wisconsin’s offer to Foxconn Technology Group to extend $3 billion in tax breaks was made in a handwritten deal that increased substantially before being signed by Gov. Scott Walker, documents released Thursday under the state’s open records law showed.

Walker’s office released the documents to The Associated Press and other news organizations. One handwritten page, signed by Walker and Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou on July 12, called for the Taiwanese company to invest up to $10 billion in the state in exchange for $3 billion in subsidies.

That was two weeks before the deal was publicly announced. A June 26 letter from Walker’s administration said the state’s offer had increased substantially, but portions of a June 2 offer from the state to Foxconn were blacked out by Walker’s office.

Democratic critics have blasted the state’s deal with the electronics giant, saying putting taxpayers on the hook for nearly $3 billion isn’t worth it. But Walker and supporters say the potential economic boost from the plant, planned for the southeast corner of the state near Illinois, is too good to pass up.

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Democratic state Rep. Gordon Hintz, a member of the Legislature’s budget committee and a loud critic of the project, responded to the release of the handwritten deal with a mocking handwritten note of his own.

All it said was, “Are you kidding me?”

Under the deal, Foxconn could qualify for up to $2.85 billion in cash payments from the state if it invests $10 billion and creates 13,000 jobs. A bill to seal the deal passed the Assembly in August and the budget-writing committee hoped to pass it next week, setting up a vote in the Senate.

Some Republican senators say they want to impose deadlines on Foxconn to create the jobs. If the Senate passes a different version of the bill, it must clear the Assembly again before going to Walker.

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The memorandum of understanding Walker signed with Foxconn requires that the incentive package pass by the end of September. Foxconn has said it hopes to have a plant up and running by 2020.

The plant would be the first outside of Asia to construct liquid crystal display panels for televisions, computers and other uses. Foxconn is the world’s largest contract maker of electronics, with factories across mainland China. It’s best known for making iPhones and other Apple devices but its long list of customers includes Sony Corp., Dell Inc. and BlackBerry Ltd.


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