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Evers: Foxconn Contract Should Be Renegotiated, 13K Jobs ‘Unrealistic’

Republicans Accuse Governor Of Undermining Deal With Tech Company

Tony Evers
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers speaks during an interview during the National Governors Association 2019 winter meeting in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo

Gov. Tony Evers said Wednesday that Wisconsin’s contract with manufacturing giant Foxconn Technology Group might need to be renegotiated.

Evers said it’s “unrealistic” to expect the company will still create a promised 13,000 jobs in the state in light of reports that it plans to change the products it manufactures at its planned southeastern Wisconsin plant.

“I think at this point in time that would be an unrealistic expectation, when they’re downsizing the footprint of what they’re doing,” he said.

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Foxconn confirmed in February that it will build smaller-screen televisions at the plant. It was initially expected to manufacture large-panel displays.

Evers said the changes mean Wisconsin’s $4 billion deal with the company should be re-evaluated.

“Clearly, the deal that was struck is no longer in play,” Evers said. “The present contract deals with a situation that no longer exists, so it’s our goal to make sure the taxpayers are protected and environmental standards are protected. And we believe that we need to take a look at that contract and see if it needs to be downsized as a result.”

Republican leaders were quick to push back on the governor’s comments.

“This completes the original narrative that the governor has wanted to undermine the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation from day one,” said state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, in a prepared statement. “If the state is willing to renege on its commitment to Foxconn and open up a contract without agreement by both parties, then what guarantee can Wisconsin make to any other company that wants to expand here?”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, called the existing contract “ironclad” and remained optimistic on job numbers, saying, “As Foxconn works to create 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin, I’m open to hearing if any flexibility is needed to achieve that goal, which I hope is the intent of Governor Evers.”

The governor’s comments came shortly after reports that Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou plans to run for president of Taiwan. Evers said he doesn’t expect Gou’s potential candidacy to affect the company’s work in Wisconsin.