Vote on Foxconn incentives could come in mid-August

It could be mid-August before the Legislature votes on legislation providing incentives for Foxconn to build a plant in Wisconsin as lawmakers dive into details that include up to $252 million in contingency bonding for I-94 north-south and rollbacks of environmental regulations.

The legislation also would provide incentives designed to encourage Fiserv to keep its headquarters in Wisconsin as the Brookfield financial technology company continues evaluating a new location, including a possible move to Georgia.

Republican lawmakers are caucusing today to discuss the bill.

Kit Beyer, a spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said a public hearing is expected this week. Beyer said it was still being decided whether committees beyond the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee would review the proposal.

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, meanwhile, said he hoped the legislation could make it through the committee process and hit the floor the week of Aug. 14.

“We’ve got to do our due diligence,” he said. “We’ve got to realize probably a lot of this is baked in the cake and a lot of it has been negotiated by the administration, so I’m not sure how much wiggle room there is.”

Myranda Tanck, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said the office is still reviewing the proposal and hasn’t yet decided on a timeline for action on it.

Steineke said the bonding included in the bill “may make it easier for the Senate, harder for us.”

Bonding for roads has been at the heart of the budget impasse that has now stretched a full month into the new fiscal year.

The last offer from Senate Republicans included $712 million in new bonding for roads with $350 million of that covered by the general fund. Vos, meanwhile, had been advocating for additional bonding only if there were new revenues to pay for it.

Gov. Scott Walker this month suggested using $203.5 million he had wanted to put toward income tax cuts and instead spend it on roadwork. He said that could eliminate the need for any state bonding to pay for roads, though he left open the possibility of the state getting higher than expected federal funds for contingency bonding.

The contingency bonding included in the Foxconn bill would improve the state’s position to apply for new Infrastructure for Rebuilding American grants, a separate pot of money from what Walker was targeting in his offer to GOP lawmakers this month. The bonding in the Foxconn deal also could rework the Legislature’s discussion on road funding for the next two years.

Under the bill, up to $252.4 million in general obligation bonding would be approved specifically for the I-94 north-south corridor. The state DOT would not be allowed to spend the bonds unless the state received federal money for the project.

The Trump administration earlier this month announced it would make roughly $1.5 billion available through the INFRA program to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. INFRA was billed as re-working the existing FAST Act grant program to “encourage more parties to put skin in the game,” according to the administration’s announcement. Committing the state bonding for 94 north-south could improve the state’s chances for landing an INFRA grant.

Steineke said today’s caucus will be an opportunity to see “where everybody is at” in the caucus.

Tanck, the Fitzgerald spokeswoman, said Senate Republicans were still reviewing details of the bill and declined comment on specifics.

See more about the INFRA program:
https://www.transportation.gov/buildamerica/infragrants

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