Wisconsin Assembly Expected to Approve $3 Billion Tax Package for Foxconn

By Shayndi Raice Features Dow Jones Newswires

The Wisconsin State Assembly will vote Thursday on a $3 billion tax-incentive package for Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Group to build a display-panel plant that Gov. Scott Walker says will bring thousands of jobs to the state.

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The vote, expected Thursday evening, could allow the bill to proceed to the state Senate. The deal is largely expected to pass in both houses of the Republican-controlled legislature, although how much bipartisan support it will receive remains unclear. Mr. Walker, a Republican, said he believes the bill will pass before Labor Day.

Foxconn, best known for assembling Apple Inc. iPhones in China, is planning to build a $10 billion, 20 million square-foot campus that will primarily produce high-resolution liquid-crystal displays used in smartphones and car dashboards in addition to TVs. The deal was announced last month at a White House ceremony as part of President Donald Trump's efforts to revive the U.S. manufacturing industry.

Mr. Walker has touted the benefits of the plant, including claims that it would hire 3,000 people initially and up to 13,000 workers eventually. Tens of thousands of other jobs would be created indirectly, according to reports from consulting firms hired by the state and Foxconn.

Mr. Walker has also argued the deal would be transformational for the state's economy, attracting an influx of investment and talent.

But a state fiscal analysis found that taxpayers would not recoup their investment in the 15-year tax-credit deal until the 2042-2043 fiscal year. The hefty tax bill has led some lawmakers to question whether the deal as it's currently structured makes sense. Others have also raised concerns about an easing of some environmental requirements for Foxconn.

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Rep. Peter Barca, the Assembly minority leader, said at Thursday's session that, "We can restructure this deal so by the time we've paid out over 15 years, the taxpayers would have been made whole. It's not that hard to do."

The state Senate hasn't given a firm date for when it will take up the bill, but the majority leader expects the bill to pass before a Sept. 30 deadline.

Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., is the world's foremost contract manufacturer and one of China's largest exporters, making products for a range of companies, including Apple.

With this investment, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou is betting the U.S. can re-create the supply chain that moved to China and other lower-cost Asian countries in recent decades.

This wouldn't be Mr. Gou's first attempt at opening a U.S. display factory. In 2014, the firm explored a potential $40 million investment in manufacturing and research facilities in Pennsylvania that didn't advance because local governments didn't offer terms that were favorable enough.

Write to Shayndi Raice at shayndi.raice@wsj.com

Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Group got one step closer Thursday to setting up shop in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin state assembly voted to approve a $3 billion tax-incentive package for the Taiwanese firm to build a display-panel plant that Gov. Scott Walker says will bring thousands of jobs to the state.

The vote, which gained bipartisan support, allows the bill to proceed to the Wisconsin state senate.

Mr. Walker said the vote was "the next big step in bringing a high-tech ecosystem to Wisconsin."

Foxconn, best known for assembling Apple Inc. iPhones in China, is planning to build a $10 billion, 20 million square-foot campus that will primarily produce high-resolution liquid-crystal displays used in smartphones and car dashboards in addition to TVs. The deal was announced last month at a White House ceremony as part of President Donald Trump's efforts to revive the U.S. manufacturing industry.

Mr. Walker has touted the benefits of the plant, including claims that it would hire 3,000 people initially and up to 13,000 workers eventually. Tens of thousands of other jobs would be created indirectly, according to reports from consulting firms hired by the state and Foxconn.

Mr. Walker has also argued the deal would be transformational for the state's economy, attracting an influx of investment and talent.

But a state fiscal analysis found that taxpayers wouldn't recoup their investment in the 15-year tax-credit deal until the 2042-2043 fiscal year. The hefty tax bill has led some lawmakers to question whether the deal as it is currently structured makes sense. Others have also raised concerns about an easing of some environmental requirements for Foxconn.

Speaking on the assembly floor earlier in the day, Rep. Gary Hebl, a Democrat who represents Sun Prairie, said "I don't want to gamble with the taxpayers money and if I'm going to break even in 25 years, that's a horrible gamble. I'm better off putting my money in a mattress." He voted against the bill.

The state Senate hasn't given a firm date for when it will take up the bill, but the majority leader expects the bill to pass before a Sept. 30 deadline.

Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., is the world's foremost contract manufacturer and one of China's largest exporters, making products for a range of companies, including Apple.

With this investment, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou is betting the U.S. can re-create the supply chain that moved to China and other lower-cost Asian countries in recent decades.

This wouldn't be Mr. Gou's first attempt at opening a U.S. display factory. In 2014, the firm explored a potential $40 million investment in manufacturing and research facilities in Pennsylvania that didn't advance because local governments didn't offer terms that were favorable enough.

Write to Shayndi Raice at shayndi.raice@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 17, 2017 21:01 ET (01:01 GMT)