FRI AM Update: Foxconn says it will continue to work ‘collaboratively and productively’ with Evers administration

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From WisPolitics.com …

— Foxconn says it will continue to work “collaboratively and productively” with the Evers administration after company CEO Terry Gou met with the guv for the first time.

Gou, who met with President Trump earlier this week, met with Evers, state and local officials, and members of the state’s higher education community while in Wisconsin yesterday, the company said. Foxconn said Gou also spoke with employees at its Mt. Pleasant building.

“We will continue to work collaboratively and productively with Governor Evers and his team, as well as our wide stakeholder network, as we expand and deepen our investment in the state,” Foxconn said. “As we do so, we look forward to completing the Gen6 advanced manufacturing facility and related infrastructure during the next major phase of the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park.”

The meetings came after weeks of headlines about the company’s intention for the plant in Racine County after it scaled back from its original vision of a Generation 10.5 facility producing LCD screens the size of a garage door to a Gen6 facility that would churn out screens up to a large flat-screen TV.

Two weeks ago, Evers said it was “unrealistic” to believe Foxconn would live up to its promise to create 13,000 jobs at the Racine County plant after scaling back its plans.

But following yesterday’s meeting with Gou at Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport, Evers backed away from those comments in a joint meeting of the editorial boards for the Kenosha News and Racine Journal Times. He told the papers the number of jobs “could be less, it could be more, to me it doesn’t matter. I’m not doubting their word, I’m just saying that we want as much clarity as we can going forward and we talked about what they’re doing right now as far as building. They’re hoping to have the new plant up and running as soon as possible.”

See more from the ed board meeting in Top Headlines below.

— Dem AG Josh Kaul changed the Department of Justice’s position on two environmental lawsuits that are before the state Supreme Court.

Both lawsuits are part of a years-long legal battle waged by environmental group Clean Wisconsin against the Department of Natural Resources.

In the first lawsuit, filed in 2015, the group argued that a Kewaunee County dairy farm should not have been permitted to expand to more than 6,000 cows in an area where concerns have been raised over groundwater pollution.

The second suit, filed a year later, challenged a DNR decision to issue eight high-capacity well approvals. The suit charged that the agency must take the impact these wells have on groundwater into consideration before issuing permits.

Under former Republican AG Brad Schimel, the DOJ sided with the DNR. After Dane County judges ruled for Clean Wisconsin in both suits, the Justice Department appealed the cases to 2nd District Court of Appeals, which in turn asked the state Supreme Court to take them up.

But in a brief filed yesterday, Kaul indicated that the DOJ had changed sides and supported the Dane County judges’ decisions. The AG offered little in the way of explanation, though he did note in the brief that arguments made by the previous administration’s DOJ “were not consistent with controlling law.”

Sen. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, panned that decision.

“Yet again, Attorney General Kaul is refusing to do his job and is siding with liberal special interest groups attempting to reverse existing state law,” he said.

GOP legislative leaders last week approved hiring private attorneys to represent them in the case. That marked the fifth time since Kaul took office that GOP lawmakers have sought representation from private attorneys. Republicans have enlisted outside legal counsel in three lawsuits challenging actions from the December extraordinary session, as well as a Planned Parenthood suit that is challenging abortion restrictions. A federal judge last week denied the GOP request to intervene in the Planned Parenthood suit though, rejecting Republicans’ argument that Kaul wouldn’t defend the law strenuously enough.

See the release:
https://www.doj.state.wi.us/news-releases/state-files-notice-voluntary-dismissal-and-motions-modify-briefing-schedule-two-dnr

— Sen. Jeff Smith touted Gov. Tony Evers’ pro-labor budget proposals in this week’s Dem radio address.

Evers’ plan would roll back some changes introduced under former Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, which Smith said “weakened the state’s tradition of championing workers, collective bargaining and local control.”

The Eau Claire Dem highlighted the proposals’ “efforts to restore the state’s historic partnerships between management and labor” by repealing so-called right-to-work laws, banning questions about criminal history, expanding medical and family leave, increasing the minimum wage and investing in workforce development.

According to Smith, the budget proposals “give more Wisconsinites the opportunity to enjoy economic security and pride in their work.”

“We all benefit when we put workers first and respect their labor,” he concluded.

See the complete address here:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/weekly-democratic-radio-address-governor-evers-budget-values-wisconsin-workers/

— Rep. Barbara Dittrich denounced Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed Medicaid expansion in this week’s GOP radio address, calling it “an unsustainable expansion of welfare benefits.”

Under Evers’ proposed budget, Wisconsin would accept federal dollars to increase healthcare coverage across the state. Evers has said the move would free up $1.6 million to be allocated to other healthcare-related priorities.

But Dittrich cited Wisconsin’s high rate of insured residents in claiming that Wisconsin has “no insurance gap.” Dittrich did note, however, that an estimated 40,000 Wisconsin citizens are currently eligible for Medicaid but aren’t enrolled.

“Expanding further – is taking a step backwards – for the state, and for those working to be free of government dependency,” the Oconomowoc Republican said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

She called on her fellow legislators to instead focus on addressing things such as step therapy requirements and prescription drug prices.

“These are bipartisan measures that can truly make a difference,” Dittrich said.

See the complete address here:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/rep-dittrich-weekly-gop-radio-address/

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TOP HEADLINES

Evers: ‘I’m Going To Fight Like Hell’ For Medicaid Expansion
… [DHS Sec.] Palm has called the expansion the “anchor” of her department’s budget. Evers quickly called a press conference Thursday morning to respond to the GOP pushback. “I’m here today with a message for the people of Wisconsin: I’m going to fight like hell for Medicaid expansion and I need your help to get it done.” BadgerCare, expansion details. VOs at Thursday presser in Milwaukee still opposed, “Under his plan, we will actually see the potential of over $500 million increased costs in the private sector. … But we are never going to do it in a way that undermines private sector health insurance, drives up their cost, all while putting the taxpayers of Wisconsin at greater risk, should something change in Washington, D.C.” Dems continue to wave MU Law poll showing 70% support for Evers expansion. JFC Rep. Taylor: “Republicans politicians are, once again, not listening to the people of this state.”
https://wpr.org/evers-im-going-fight-hell-medicaid-expansion

Evers remains steadfast in commitment to Medicaid expansion
… Shortly after an impromptu meeting in Milwaukee with Foxconn chairman Terry Gou, Evers and members of his staff arrived in Kenosha to outline the importance of [ACA] Medicaid expansion and its potential … [to] give an additional 82,000 people access to affordable health care. … “One of the reasons I’m sitting as governor is because of this issue. … We travel all across the state, and this is what people are telling us. We feel an obligation not to just roll over and play dead because Republican leadership has decided to ignore at least 70 percent of the people in the state that want to make sure we have good health care.” … Thirty-seven states participate in Medicaid expansion. … A total of $63 million is designated for Kenosha County. … An estimated 2,637 Kenosha County residents would participate in Medicaid expansion at a cost of $23.1 million. … remaining funds would … expand health services and programs and increase funding for hospitals and physicians. DHS Sec. Palm: “what is way more important is what we can do for the entire health care system with that $1.6 billion.” Vos said Medicaid expansion will not be part of their budget, “Gov. Evers and his allies are not telling the full story. They do not explain to people that if we chose to accept the Medicaid expansion that would take over 40,000 people out of the private sector health market, where they’re paying the rates that actually help keep a hospital door open. … We don’t want to raise costs, and we, most importantly, don’t want to put the Wisconsin taxpayer at risk. … There are good things in Tony Evers’ budget that we are going to support. The things he’s chosen to highlight … were non-starters the day Gov. Evers introduced his budget. I don’t know why he would somehow think when none of the facts have changed, our opinions would.” Evers said he and GOP leaders “meet regularly, and we’ll continue to do that. There’s no personal animosity, at least not from my angle. I’m too old for that,” said VOs is “used to having Scott Walker as governor, and they strategized together. I have a different view of the world than he does in many ways.”
https://kenoshanews.com/323023ed-7027-56d8-9beb-2358ff9669a8.html

Evers discusses meeting with Foxconn CEO with Racine, Kenosha editorial boards
… Evers met with … Gou inside the Signature flight terminal, reserved for private jets, at Mitchell International Airport on Thursday after Gou met with President Donald Trump on Wednesday. … Evers described the 30-minute meeting as “great conversation” … first step toward “building a good relationship. We talked a lot about what their plans were and it’s pretty much how it’s been defined previously. … We spent a lot of time talking about the transition from him being in charge of daily work in the company to [running for president of Taiwan and] turning over the helm to some of his colleagues,” Evers said. “I talked about our interests and that the company succeeds and that has always been our position.” … [rehash switch from Gen10.5 to Gen6, 13K job promise] “The fact that I said that they may not have 13,000 (jobs), it could be less, it could be more, to me it doesn’t matter,” Evers said. “I’m not doubting their word, I’m just saying that we want as much clarity as we can going forward and we talked about what they’re doing right now as far as building. They’re hoping to have the new plant up and running as soon as possible. … We’ll be supportive of (the Foxconn deal), I was never not supportive of that. … Any business, especially a large business, is going to have their detractors and attractors, this business is no different. I don’t want to contribute to that because frankly I want them to be successful.” … Gou then met with local officials [Speaker Vos, Mt. Pleasant chair DeGroot, Co. Exec. DelaGrave, REDC’s Trick] and Foxconn workers at the company’s building located at 13315 Globe Drive in Mount Pleasant. Delagrave said Gou spoke affectionately of WI, Racine County, “He looks forward to continuing the project and the investment that they’re making is a critical part of their business plan,” said vertical construction begins early June, “those contracts are going to be let pretty soon and hopefully in 30 days they’ll have the construction companies named and we’ll be on our way,” noted “national media put in some uncertainty” so “Foxconn now is going to be responding to these national reports right away.” Vos statement called the meeting a “positive step forward … Every time they are asked, Foxconn officials reiterate their commitment … Let’s hope now that they’ve met with Gov. Evers, we can put the political back and forth behind us. We’re all on the same team and we can’t have politics get in the way of this transformational project.” Foxconn issued statement on Trump meeting. Huckabee-Sanders for Trump: “Mr. Gou is spending a lot of money in Wisconsin and soon will announce even more investment there. The President and Mr. Gou did not discuss support for his campaign in Taiwan, he is just a great friend.”
https://journaltimes.com/b6f4273f-12b6-5822-bcce-7c0da2db4ed2.html

Foxconn CEO held first meeting with Tony Evers Thursday
… Vos, R-Rochester, at a news conference Thursday at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Airport … “My hope is that we’re turning a corner, that perhaps today Gov. Evers finally has accepted the fact that Gov. Walker and the Republicans negotiated a really good deal for the state of Wisconsin,” Vos said. … A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Fitzgerald has no plans to meet with Gou. WEDC rep said CEO Hogan has panned meeting with Gou, “no different than the discussions he has with company officials on a regular basis.”
https://madison.com/wsj/e5992f9c-4e56-5f61-9c19-28207c4cc54e.html

Foxconn Struggles to Put Wisconsin First
Progress is slow on promises to create jobs and support business in the state … according to a review … of Foxconn supply chain and budget documents covering much of 2018. … look at the early challenges Foxconn has faced in trying to deliver on its promises to the state. … raise questions about public-investment returns on large-scale government incentive packages. … [diagram shows] Wisconsin suppliers represent just 27% of 200 total vendors — 26 purchases totaling $7.6M. Trump predicted a Foxconn transformation in WI. White House, Speaker Vos did not respond. Rehash Foxconn downsizes, target misses, Yeung “crystal ball” tweet. Foxconn’s Woo in Jan. touted > $200M invested in WI, 95% to WI contractors, though WEDC documents [shared by a source who claims Foxconn is failing to invest more in local businesses and state workers] show $99.2M in 2018, $92.7M toward land acquisition. Foxconn said $200M figures includes non-contractual spending. WEDC’s Lietz said they only confirm contractual data, “Foxconn is not incentivized on supply chain and has no affirmative obligation to make a certain supply chain investment.” Foxconn’s 155K-square-foot Experimental Training Center is assembling TV displays labeled “Made in Mexico” despite Trump saying they would be “Made in the USA.” 2 person familiar say Foxconn is slow to approve new suppliers, few WI suppliers can work to Foxconn scale, they choose based on tiny price differences, would take US suppliers years to match their Asian suppliers. Foxconn listed 13 expenditures from February 2018, totaling $884,936, for factory machinery from “Hon Hai Precision.” $4.8M for production line robotics and installation from Swiss ABB Group, which has several WI offices though the purchased robotics come from MI factory. ABB declined comment, but ABB project manager for Foxconn account was not “confirming or denying” whether Foxconn paid ABB the $4.8M. Foxconn first said “All companies designated as ‘Wisconsin-based’ are designated based on WEDC definitions,” but owned the designation after WEDC denied having such “definitions.” Critic, Minority Leader Hintz: “Certainly the spirit of what has been sold to the public on this project was not about a supplier having a P.O. Box and Foxconn calling that a Wisconsin-based investment.” WI vendors on Foxconn’s list include Milwaukee’s Capitol Stampings, Waukesha’s Next Electric, Racine’s Days Inn and various Foxconn subsidiaries. Rehash Foxconn issue in Walker-Evers race. Evers did not respond.
https://bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-02/foxconn-struggles-to-put-wisconsin-first

Evers’ administration gives $5-an-hour raises to officers at six Wisconsin prisons
… From now until at least June 2020, officers and sergeants will get the additional pay for shifts at Columbia, Dodge, Green Bay, Taycheedah and Waupun … Lincoln Hills School for Boys … will now pay new workers $21.65 an hour … Veteran employees at the six institutions will also get pay boosts of $5 an hour. … “This ‘plan’ was not well thought out and is representative of top-down thinking,” Redgranite Correctional Institution officer Paul Mertz said … one of the thousands of officers who won’t get the bump in pay. … [suggested] broader solution … Otherwise, employees at other facilities may flock to the prisons with higher pay, worsening staffing shortages elsewhere. JFC Dem Sen. Erpenbach: “I’m relieved that we now have a corrections administration that understands that public employees, the officers, don’t need a raise in a year or two. They need the money right now.” DOC Sec. Carr memo: “The safety of our staff and the people we serve must be a priority, and severe staffing shortages threaten that safety. … To those who feel undervalued, please know that I see you, DOC leaders see you, and the governor sees you. We know that you are facing challenging work environments and are deserving of more public appreciation and competitive wages.” Rep. Schraa: “I’m glad they heard our pleadings, our cries. I’m still trying to absorb the effects it’s going to have on these other facilities, which is a concern of mine.” Rep. Tranel noted his “supermax” guards don’t get the raise, despite “dealing with the exact same prison population as these other maximum security institutions … To value their work as less than that of someone else who is doing the exact same job is reckless and irresponsible.” Other officers comment.
https://jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2019/05/02/3652202002/

40 Trempealeau County Landowners Sue Hi-Crush Frac Sand Mines
… Four separate lawsuits are directed at Hi-Crush sand mining and processing facilities in the cities of Whitehall and Blair. … say the company hasn’t done enough to mitigate its impact on neighbors. [dust, noise, cloudy well water, falling property values] … [plaintiff] attorney Tim Jacobson … said for many of them, living next to the mines has been a “living hell.” Mine locations were permitted before annexation by Whitehall, Blaire and the City of Independence, so suit is only legal recourse. Hi-Crush’s Bell: “As a Green Tier company, we recognize the importance of environmental stewardship and being a good neighbor. We take these matters seriously and will present a vigorous defense based on the facts and the law.”
https://wpr.org/40-trempealeau-county-landowners-sue-hi-crush-frac-sand-mines

170-Year-Old Wisconsin Abortion Ban Still On The Books
… [1849 law] makes it a felony for doctors to provide an abortion and contains no exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother. … hasn’t been enforced because of the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade … Over the years, there have been unsuccessful attempts to overturn … Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health and National Institute for Reproductive Health started Monday with billboards in Madison and social media. “Wisconsin is not recognized as having some of the harshest abortion laws, but we’re right up there with Texas and some others who do have that reputation,” said [WARH’s] Finger … Five abortion bills have been introduced by Republican state lawmakers this year. Rehash “born alive” bill, Evers veto vow, Trump remark, expert comments, 20-week abortion ban, 24-hr wait. Majority Leader Steineke sees nat’l milieu as ripe, “If expanded abortion laws can take hold in places like New York or Virginia, there’s no doubt that Gov. Evers and his allies won’t try to do the same here in Wisconsin.”
https://wpr.org/170-year-old-wisconsin-abortion-ban-still-books

The last campaign: Former Gov. Schreiber takes on ignorance of Alzheimer’s disease
… At 80, Marty Schreiber’s back hunches, and there are days when he limps from a spinal condition that radiates pain from his ankles to his knees. Yet when the state’s 39th governor is invited to speak, he seldom says no. … In 2018, he gave 141 talks on caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, the passage he has been navigating with his wife, Elaine, these last 14 years and counting. … described in his 2016 book, “My Two Elaines” … This campaign is different. There’s no opponent to debate. “You cannot argue with this disease,” he says. So he travels from town to town, battling what he calls “the ignorance of Alzheimer’s,” using skills acquired from a lifetime in politics. … He tells the [Stritch] students that after four children,13 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, his wife no longer recognizes him. And he is at peace with that loss. “She does not have to know who I am for us to share a loving experience,” he says, transitioning into a story. … Elaine’s diaries [recording the disease’s progression, which he found accidentally] have come to figure prominently in Marty’s book and in his talks. More life stories, 48:06 audio.
https://jsonline.com/story/news/2019/05/03/3538224002/

 


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