Dem guv candidate Andy Gronik says he would vote no on the Foxconn deal if he was a state lawmaker.
The Milwaukee businessman told a WisPolitics.com luncheon in Madison August 24 he’s supportive of adding “13,000 good paying, family sustaining jobs.” But as details of the Walker administration plan emerged, he became more skeptical.
And he concluded if he was part of a corporate board and the deal was presented to him, he’d reject it and the person who proposed it.
“If I was the board of directors and our CEO, Gov. Scott Walker, brought me this deal, I would first deny the deal and then I’d fire Scott Walker,” said Gronik, an international business consultant from the Milwaukee area.
But Gronik said if the agreement does go through and he’s elected governor next year, he would be interested in making sure it’s “the best deal for the state of Wisconsin” — if the contract is renegotiable.
Asked by reporters after the luncheon if he would support including a diversity clause in the Foxconn contract, including a certain hiring quota of women or minorities, he responded: “I just don’t have enough information about that one. Can’t really answer it.”
Describing his economic development strategy for the state to get good paying jobs, Gronik said he’d back jobs surrounding infrastructure, manufactured housing and urban farming, along with further bolstering industries that are “already strong” in Wisconsin, such as energy and agriculture.
“We’ve got people right now who are living in poverty, we lift them from poverty, that’s a benefit to taxpayers,” he said. “And if we do it with certain kinds of industries that are already strong in our state, we help build those companies too, which also helps the taxpayers.”
On transportation, Gronik did not rule out a gas tax hike, registration fee increase or tolling.
But he came out against supporting heavy bonding to pay for mega projects, although he didn’t name specific funding thresholds. Instead, he said the state “should have a plan for revenue.”
“When you look at that strategy [of bonding], it’s kind of a clever, sneaky way of tagging everybody in the state of Wisconsin,” he said. “It’s like you’re using their charge card without actually giving them a charge card statement. We’re charging the future of our roads.”
Asked about tolling, Gronik called it “one of the many, many options that are currently on the table.”
“I think we have to look at every single one of those options and understand what is best for the long-term vision of how we’re going to grow our communities and our economy,” he said.
Gronik also floated a proposal to waive state income taxes for newly graduated college students in order to encourage them to come to or stay in Wisconsin.
That money, he said, would then be used to pay down the recent grads’ student loan debt.
Gronik told reporters that newly graduated students who live and work in the state for a minimum of six months would be eligible, although he didn’t go into further detail, including the potential cost of his proposal.
“I think it’s essential that we turn around a trend right now where we see young people leaving the state of Wisconsin,” he said.
Hear Gronik’s media availability with reporters: