Fitzgerald critical of Assembly process on Foxconn bill

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he doesn’t know if he has the votes for the Foxconn bill and the Assembly’s decision to work on amendments without input from his caucus threatens to delay passage of the legislation.

Meanwhile, the Assembly is targeting a Tuesday committee exec and Aug. 17 floor vote on the bill, though Jobs and the Economy Chair Adam Neylon said that is a moving target as he wades through some 60 amendments that have been proposed so far.

And Gov. Scott Walker maintains that state officials “can do both” the Foxconn deal and the budget at the same time this month.

Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Thursday he’s still going through the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s analysis of the bill, saying it’s striking the state wouldn’t break even on the $3 billion incentive package for 25 years. He also said this was new territory for lawmakers and even LFB in trying to project the impact of a project that backers hope will have a ripple effect on Wisconsin’s economy for years to come.

A Fitzgerald spokeswoman clarified he has not counted votes in the caucus, in part, because his members are still working their way through the bill and that discussion is not complete.

“Certainly we should be cautious,” Fitzgerald told reporters after meeting with the guv. “That’s what we’re doing right now is our due diligence to make sure it’s a good deal for the state, a good deal for locals and ultimately creates this high-tech campus that everyone is hoping for.”

Fitzgerald said Senate Republicans caucused Tuesday and will meet again today with DOA Secretary Scott Neitzel, who is invited to attend as his caucus considers the bill.

He added the bill appeared to include adequate protections that ensured Foxconn hit job creation goals before receiving some credits. But his caucus is looking at what happens if the company builds the campus in southeastern Wisconsin, but the jobs don’t come as quickly as forecast to make sure there are “some kind of protections there,” including for local governments.

Fitzgerald added the Assembly’s decision to work on amendments without input from his caucus means Senate Republicans will have to review them all to see which ones they’ll consider. He said that process is unusual.

“I’m not going to dismiss them as amendments that aren’t valuable, but I also know that the Senate will take a look at each one of them and see whether or not we agree from a policy standpoint,” Fitzgerald said.

A spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, did not immediately return messages seeking comment. But Vos tweeted, “@WIAssemblyGOP is working WITH Gov Walker to improve the deal and get it to his desk!”

Fitzgerald also continues to hold open Aug. 21-23 because his Finance members are all available in that window, hoping progress can be made on the budget and Foxconn.

He said his caucus continues to refine its position on the personal property tax, transportation and how much of a cash balance the state should have after the budget is completed.

During an appearance on conservative host Mark Belling’s radio show, Fitzgerald said he has spoken with Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling about getting Dem votes for the Foxconn bill.

But he added that hadn’t been ironed out.

Shilling’s chief of staff Kara Pennoyer wrote in an email the La Crosse Dem expressed to Fitzgerald concerns she’s been hearing from members about the bill.

“Senator Fitzgerald has not indicated to her that he does not have the votes or how many of his members do not plan to vote for the bill,” Pennoyer wrote.

Neylon said he’s looking at a substitute amendment on the Foxconn bill that would include more than a dozen changes he’s considering with others.

The goal is to have that substitute amendment done by Friday or possibly Monday. Either way, he wants it out at least 24 hours before his committee votes and if the package isn’t done Monday, that could push back the exec again.

At one point, Assembly Republicans were targeting Tuesday of this week for a committee vote and then possibly today before delaying it again.

“We’ve had an unprecedented level of amendments that have been proposed that we’re working on,” Neylon said.

Walker told reporters in Wausau he’s open to an amendment that encourages Foxconn to pick Wisconsin companies as the company considers which suppliers it will work with.

Walker said the Constitution prohibits states from requiring that companies can only do business with others in the state, though he said he’d be open to including language that encourages Foxconn to hire Wisconsinites and work with local companies.

“We’re very much open to that as long as we can abide by the Constitution,” Walker said.

He said he’s willing to work with lawmakers on both sides on a “whole series of amendments,” emphasizing that there’s still time to finalize changes to the special session bill he proposed.

“We’d like to have this done in August, but it doesn’t have to be today or tomorrow or next week,” he said.

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