Scott Walker and his legislative Republicans have rewritten the entire rulebook for Foxconn’s benefit at tremendous cost to our state’s future.
When the project was first announced by Gov. Scott Walker on the eve of a tough re-election bid, bringing Foxconn to Wisconsin was projected to cost Wisconsin taxpayers $3 billion.
The size of that number was startling. It would be the largest taxpayer giveaway to a foreign corporation in U.S. history, and that it would be given to Foxconn was particularly troubling. Foxconn had a long history of broken job promises, and they were automating thousands and thousands of jobs, leading many to fear that the same would happen in Wisconsin.
And Walker had been saying for years that Wisconsin could not afford adequate support for our schools, our university system or maintenance of our infrastructure.
To make a bad deal even worse for our state, the plant would be placed in southeastern Wisconsin, close to the Wisconsin-Illinois border. Wisconsin taxpayers were to pay billions of dollars to employ Illinois residents when job creators in Wisconsin like Kimberly-Clark were shuttering factories and laying off workers. (Taxpayers would also waste an additional $7 million to advertise to Chicago residents in a failed ad campaign).
The sticker price for Foxconn jumped to $4.5 billion after analysis from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau considered the costs of additional road projects and other local government assistance. In addition, Foxconn would owe virtually no taxes on their profits — Walker and legislative Republicans eliminated most taxes on Wisconsin’s wealthiest corporations in 2013.
For the next ten to twelve years, the government will be writing out checks to Foxconn totaling $2.85 billion. Even the most optimistic number-crunching doesn’t have taxpayers paying off the Foxconn deal for another twenty-five years.
The Foxconn deal highlights an essential truth about Scott Walker: that he thinks about himself and his ambitions first, but he never thinks about you.
The largest taxpayer giveaway to a foreign corporation in U.S. history was rushed through in closed-door negotiations with almost no public review, and yet taxpayers will be burdened with its cost for decades to come. It’s no wonder Wisconsinites overwhelmingly reject the deal and believe Foxconn isn’t worth the cost or the neglect of other priorities like education funding and health care.
While the price to bring Foxconn to Wisconsin is significant, Foxconn will ultimately cost Wisconsinites in more places than their pocket books. Scott Walker and his legislative Republicans have rewritten the entire rulebook for Foxconn at tremendous cost to our state’s future.
Foxconn will cost us our environment and our natural resources.
Foxconn gets to ignore Wisconsin wetlands regulations and destroy habitants essential to our ecosystem without input from affected communities. The deal also exempts Foxconn from producing an environmental impact statement, a necessary review to determine how a business will affect the quality of the air, water and soil around it.
But from what we already know, Foxconn will be a burden on our natural resources. The plant will pump seven million gallons a day out of Lake Michigan, and it’s quite possible that Foxconn releases toxic pollutants back into the lake.
The government will also look the other way as Foxconn violates smog regulations and worsens the quality of air in southeastern Wisconsin. For those with asthma and those who work and exercise outdoors, this is bad news.
A healthy environment is essential for healthy communities, and Scott Walker has shown he’s far too willing to sacrifice the future and livelihood of our state for an election-year campaign stunt.
Foxconn will cost our democracy.
In perhaps one of the more frightening provisions of the contract, Walker’s Foxconn gambit rewrites the very rules of our democracy for Foxconn.
Foxconn gets an automatic fast-pass through the Wisconsin court system in this deal, making it more likely that any lawsuits against the company are heard by Walker’s hand-picked, corporation-friendly conservative majority on the state Supreme Court. The law also enacts an automatic stay on lower court rulings until a higher court has the chance to rule in, further manipulating the judicial system in Foxconn’s favor.
Under Walker’s failed leadership, big corporations and special interests have had unchecked influence over our government. Everyone should be treated equally before the judicial system, and it is outrageous that one corporation will get such preferential treatment.
Foxconn will cost our roads.
To accommodate Foxconn, highways need to be expanded and road projects near the plant completed. To cover these costs, $90 million is being taken away from already-underfunded local road projects across Wisconsin.
Wisconsin has the second worst roads in the nation. The average Wisconsinite spends $637 a year on car repairs thanks to our abysmal infrastructure quality. Our roads have been neglected by Walker the past seven years, and it’s unthinkable that he thinks our roads and bridges could endure any more neglect.
Whether it’s a $4.5 billion taxpayer giveaway or in dismantling our judicial system, harming our environment or siphoning resources away from essential road projects, Walker has incurred astronomical costs he is forcing the rest of us in Wisconsin to pay. And for what? To secure his re-election, by his thinking, though given Wisconsinites’ overwhelming disapproval of the bad deal, Walker has clearly made a huge miscalculation.
The Foxconn deal highlights an essential truth about Scott Walker: that he thinks about himself and his ambitions first, but he never thinks about you. His enthusiastic embracing of the Foxconn deal despite numerous warning signs shows just how much he is willing to force all of us to sacrifice to give him a campaign talking point.
Scott Walker may not be around as governor come November, but Wisconsinites will undoubtedly have to deal with the repercussions of Foxconn for decades to come. And Wisconsin deserves to have a governor who, as this lousy deal unfolds, will be looking out for all the people of our state.