State Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, says the process surrounding the state’s contract with Foxconn is being rushed, and he and other WEDC board members need time to study the document before voting on it to “get it right.”
“I want to be able to read the contract, I want to be able to do the right job for the taxpayers,” Carpenter said on Sunday’s “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.
The WEDC board’s first scheduled vote on the contract was delayed after staff found an undisclosed problem. The vote could come at its Nov. 8 meeting.
Carpenter said he has been given summaries of the document, rather than the actual contract. He said some of the information has been inaccurate, and multiple summaries were sent just days or hours before the first scheduled vote.
“It was a rushed process, there are many concerns, and it had a nuclear bomb in it as far as I’m concerned,” Carpenter said of the earlier version of the contract, which had a problem he felt would have left taxpayers exposed.
“To feel comfortable voting, I want to make sure that there are concerns protecting the taxpayers, claw back the money, making sure we’re not going to lose tens of millions or possibly billions of dollars,” he said.
Also on the program, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said the WEDC and the Walker administration are currently doing the “heavy lifting” on the contract after the Foxconn bill was passed and signed in September.
Fitzgerald said the WEDC is “making sure that we’ve got everything buttoned down.”
“I think that’s wise,” he said. “I think it’s good that we have both majority and minority members of the Legislature on WEDC asking tough questions. I think that should happen right up until the contract is signed.”
Gousha asked if full details of the contract should be made public before the Nov. 8 vote. Fitzgerald said he agreed “up to a practical point.”
“For the most part, we need to know what the major pieces are before we move forward,” he said.
On the fall legislative agenda, Fitzgerald said he expects mineral mining legislation to move forward.
“We’re still working on the votes in the Senate,” he said, adding that he was optimistic the mining bill would pass. The Assembly is scheduled to take up the bill this week.
Fitzgerald also addressed comments from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on “UpFront” that three Republican senators were “terrorists” for holding the budget “hostage.”
“I disagreed with him on the idea that anybody held anybody hostage in this process,” he said
The process of passing a budget and then lobbying the governor for changes is “as old as the Capitol,” he said.
“I think he was a little bit miffed in the way that was handled in the Senate,” he said. “That process can always be revisited.”
Of the relationship between houses, Fitzgerald said: “We’re OK; we’re in a good place. … There’s a lot of things that we’re working on together that ultimately will make it to the governor’s desk.”
In another segment, Peter Feigin, president of the Milwaukee Bucks, said the team’s new downtown arena is more than 60 percent complete, on budget and on schedule.
Feigin said it would be hard for the team to “compete in the NBA at a high level” without the arena.
He also said the team is looking for a “landmark” deal for naming rights.
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