Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, says he continues to believe the state’s contract with Foxconn is a “good deal” and urged the Evers administration to stop “nitpicking” what the company is doing at a site in his district.
Correspondence between the Evers administration and Foxconn emerged over the last week showing the guv believes the company is not meeting the contract it signed under Scott Walker and thus isn’t eligible for the tax credits laid out in the deal. One company official fired back the administration’s “red herrings” over terms of the contract are impeding Foxconn’s efforts.
Some of the dispute is over the company’s announced plans to build significantly smaller LCD screens at the Mount Pleasant plant than originally envisioned. Company officials have also suggested other uses for the facility beyond manufacturing.
In a year-end interview with WisPolitics.com, Vos likened the deal to a new incentive package announced this week for Milwaukee Tool. That deal didn’t include specifics on whether the company will build cordless drills or screwdrivers. The bottom line is the creation of jobs, he said. Likewise, his main focus with Foxconn is that it sticks to the promises it made on the wages it will pay employees and the investment in the facility.
“Do I care if they’re making a widget or selling a widget? No, they’re jobs paying taxes in Wisconsin,” Vos said, adding he hopes the governor isn’t trying to “impede” the company’s efforts.
Looking to the spring floor period, Vos said he expects the Assembly to wrap up its work by late February. Still, he hoped for a “race to the finish line.”
Those priorities include: getting a package of bills from the Speaker’s Task Force on Adoption through both houses; encouraging the Senate to sign off on legislation to address the homeless issue; and advancing new initiatives to be announced after the holidays.
Vos said he also expects to unveil legislation from the task force he put together on clean water. He said details would be released early next year, and the package will address both remediation and moving forward. Still, he said it wouldn’t “just be sprinkling a bunch of dollars around.”
“We are not going to buy our way out of this problem,” Vos said. “It’s not just about money again, but I think we need to find innovation. We need to be creative.”
As far as next year’s elections, Vos acknowledged his goal is to pick up three seats to get Republicans to a two-thirds majority, which would allow them to override any of Evers’ vetoes.
To get there, many have predicted Vos will target four Dems: freshman Robyn Vining, of Wauwatosa; Steve Doyle, of Onalaska; Nick Milroy, of South Range; and Beth Meyers, of Bayfield.
Trump won Doyle and Meyers’ districts in 2016, while losing Milroy’s by just 11 votes. Vining’s seat is in the Milwaukee suburbs, where the GOP brand has suffered under Trump. Still, Vos predicted never-Trumpers in those areas would come home to the GOP in 2020.
Though Rep. Mike Rohrkaste, R-Neenah, has already announced he won’t seek reelection next year, Vos said he expected a “record low” number of retirements in the Assembly.
He also pledged a new approach to the election cycle, but declined to offer details.
“I think you’re going to see this fall an entirely different strategy than what I have employed before,” Vos said. “You’re going to have to wait to see what that is.”
Listen to the interview:
See a document Vos provided reporters on bipartisan votes this session: