Gov. Tony Evers says he wants Foxconn to amend its contract with the state not because he is seeking to reduce the state’s subsidy for workers the company hires, but because he believes the deal should reflect what’s actually going to happen at the plant.
“I think it’s important to have the contract reflect what they’re doing, not what they’re not doing,” Evers told WisPolitics.com in a year-end interview.
Evers also hinted that he’s planning to seek reelection in 2022.
Foxconn originally planned a Gen 10.5 plant in southeastern Wisconsin as part of an incentive package it signed with the state that could provide it close to $3 billion in tax credits. But it has since scaled back plans to a Gen 6 facility, which would produce smaller LCD screens; the company has at times discussed other possible options for the plant.
The Evers administration has urged the company to amend its contract, saying the current plans aren’t eligible for the credits outlined in the deal. In a letter last month, Alan Yeung, Foxconn’s director of U.S. strategic initiatives, accused the Evers administration of impeding the company’s efforts and suggested the company is “evaluating all available options to the WEDC Contract.”
Evers said he doesn’t want to see the company pull the plug on the project and “I don’t think they could either, frankly.”
Evers said he’s “having fun” as governor.
“Hell yes,” Evers said when asked if he could picture being guv for another seven years, which would mean a second term.
“I’m not announcing, believe me. But I’m having fun. This is a good job.”
Evers said he plans to focus on two things in the upcoming year.
One, the guv said he hopes to begin the discussion on criminal justice reform, an issue that he’s talked about since his 2018 campaign. Evers restarted the Pardon Advisory Board and has issued the first gubernatorial pardons since fellow Dem Jim Doyle was in office.
Evers noted former GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson has talked about criminal justice reform, which he said is something that Dems and Republicans “should be able to find common ground on.”
“Whether it’s a bill or just conversations, we’re working with the National Governors Association and other groups on information about how we can do a better job,” Evers said.
He also vowed to push “fair maps” ahead of new census numbers being released in early 2021 and new lines being drawn for legislative and congressional boundaries.
Evers said he suspects GOP lawmakers already have ideas about the maps that they’d like, saying the lines are likely similar to what’s in place now. While he’s open to compromise with GOP legislative leaders, Evers said he would veto the maps if they look like the current ones and head to court on the issue.
“We as a state are going to have to embrace that conversation,” Evers said.
Evers also defended his dealings with the Legislature.
The guv pledged during the 2018 campaign to bring the Capitol together after a series of high-profile political fights during the eight years his predecessor was in office. But he has had a difficult relationship with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau.
“I would say for the most part every once in a while I’ll slip in a word I shouldn’t be using,” said Evers, who some criticized for swearing to reporters after the state Senate fired his ag secretary. “But for the most part, my DNA core has been solid that I don’t spend a lot of time criticizing the opponents.”
Evers added later, “I did not fire my ag secretary. I did not ask for the lame-duck laws, nor was I asked that. There is plenty of blame to go around. Let’s put it that way. I refuse to shoulder the whole blame. Will I try harder to work with them? Yes. I tried hard last time, and we had trouble getting them in the door here. And I’ll continue to do that.”
Listen to the interview: