Foxconn signing

Gov. Scott Walker and Terry Gou, Foxconn chairman and CEO, shake hands on Nov. 10, 2017 to celebrate the signing of a contract between the state and the Foxconn Technology Group.

RACINE COUNTY — Republican leaders, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, are pointing fingers at Democratic Gov. Tony Evers after news came out that Foxconn Technology Group is going to adjust plans for its Mount Pleasant manufacturing campus.

Democrats, in turn, blamed Republicans for what they consider a bad deal with Foxconn.

In a statement released Wednesday, Vos and state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, wrote:

“We don’t blame Foxconn for altering plans in an ever-changing technology business. It’s also not surprising Foxconn would rethink building a manufacturing plant in Wisconsin under the Evers Administration. The company is reacting to the wave of economic uncertainty that the new governor has brought with his administration. Governor Evers has an anti-jobs agenda and pledged to do away with a successful business incentive for manufacturing and agriculture.”

“From the very beginning, we looked out for the best interest of the taxpayers of the state,” Vos and Fitzgerald stated. “Not a dollar would be paid out until jobs in the Foxconn development area were created. The incentive package is based on fulfilling the contract. We will continue to work with Foxconn to help the company meet its repeated goal of creating 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin. Again, the company has reiterated that this goal hasn’t changed.”

Vos and Fitzgerald say Republicans will work to “keep Wisconsin open for business and the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit in place. This news only strengthens our commitment to Wisconsin: We aren’t going to let our state move backward.”

The statement praises Foxconn for creating 1,000 jobs, both direct and indirect, and an investment of $200 million in the state.

Foxconn reported that it created 1,032 jobs last year, comprised of 178 full-time Foxconn employees and 854 people working to build the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park. However, the company was not able to receive tax credits because it did not create at least 260 eligible jobs.

Evers administration ‘surprised’

Joel Brennan, secretary-designee for the state Department of Administration for Evers, said the administration “is in regular, weekly communication with senior leadership at Foxconn, however, we were surprised to learn about this development.” That was a reference to a report by Reuters that Foxconn has changed some of its manufacturing plans for its future Mount Pleasant campus.

On Wednesday, Foxconn reaffirmed its commitment to the state and to creating 13,000 jobs but admitted that global market conditions had led it to adjust its plans. The company also said it continues to actively consider opportunities for thin-film-transistor technologies.

“While some of the information reported today has been previously reported publicly, other details about the continuing evolution of this project will require further review and evaluation by our team,” Brennan said in a statement. “Our team has been in contact with Foxconn since learning this news and will continue to monitor the project to ensure the company delivers on its promises to the people of Wisconsin.”

Brennan said Evers plans to protect taxpayers and “the local communities that have already made significant investments in this project, and our environment are his chief concerns.”

“In the coming weeks, the Evers Administration will continue to commit time, resources, and personnel to ensure that the interests of Wisconsin workers and taxpayers are protected and promoted by our approach to the Foxconn project,” Brennan said.

Democrats respond

Some Democrats have blasted Republicans for their response to the Foxconn plan changes.

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, tweeted, “There is nothing more pathetic than legislative leaders responsible for selling taxpayers a bag of coal evading even a whiff of any responsibility and accountability. You own this and owe taxpayers answers.”

“Today’s announcement is the consequence of rushed policy-making and politically driven legislation,” Hintz said in a statement. “We were promised a game-changing economic opportunity for our state. And now, it appears Foxconn is living up to their failed track record in the U.S. — leaving another state and community high and dry.”

Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who helped bring Foxconn to Wisconsin, tweeted, “Foxconn earns state tax credits based on actual investment and job creation. No jobs/investment? No credits. Period.”

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisconsin, rebutted Walker on Twitter saying, “So you’re admitting that you dragged Wisconsin through a senseless PR stunt to help your re-election campaign? Got it. Glad you’re finally on board with recognizing that #Foxconn was never going to live up to its promises on job creation and that you sold out the state.”

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Ricardo Torres covers federal, state and Racine County politics along with the Village of Mount Pleasant. He bleeds Wisconsin sports teams.

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