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Assembly Leadership Calls For Hearings On Foxconn Incentive Package

Republicans Hoping For Quick Action, While Some Democrats Voice Caution

A security guard stands at the entrance of the Foxconn complex in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, Southern city in China, Thursday, May 27, 2010. Kin Cheung/AP

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is calling for public hearings to begin as soon as this week on a $3 billion incentive package aimed at luring tech-giant Foxconn to southeast Wisconsin.

Late last week Gov. Scott Walker released a 34-page bill full of financial and regulatory incentives to lure tech-giant Foxconn into building a 1,000-acre complex of factories in southeast Wisconsin that it promises will employ up to 13,000 workers.

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke said he approves of Vos’ call and of speedy hearings. It’s time for quick action to spur construction, he said.

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“While we’re following the same process that we always follow on bills, we are doing it on a little bit quicker timeframe to try to get this through the Legislature so the developers can break ground as early as this fall,” Steineke said.

Steineke said he believes the Foxconn legislation offers taxpayer protection should the company decide against building in Wisconsin. He also said it’s not likely to further delay passage of the state budget.

Some have raised concerns about Walker’s incentive package because it waives a requirement for the state Department of Natural Resources to conduct an environmental review of the Foxconn proposal. It also allows the company to fill in wetlands and build on lakebeds. But Steineke said there are environmental protections in the bill.

“It’s also important to recognize that in that legislation there’s actually more stringent requirements for the developers than is in current law,” Steineke said.

Democrats are optimistic about the Foxconn development, but some have raised concerns about the details of the $3 billion incentive package. Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca said he hopes more questions will be answered when the incentive bill is considered.

“There are still many unanswered questions that I hope will be answered in the upcoming public hearing,” Barca said. “There should also be time following the hearing but before a vote is held to address any issues that might arise. Wisconsin residents, local officials and taxpayers need time to consider this sizeable investment.”