Foxconn Plant: Are Tax Incentives Worth It to Wisconsin?

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 10, 2017

The Legislature is considering Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to offer the Taiwan-based manufacturer an incentive package that includes $3 billion and streamlined pollution permitting.

If the company hit that growth target, Wisconsin would break even after 25 years, said Rob Reinhardt, a program manager who worked on the report. "Wisconsin is offering $3 billion for a $10 billion investment, $10.5 billion in new payroll, and 13,000 direct jobs".

The Taiwanese business, which makes gadgets for Apple, Google, Amazon and other companies, said it would spend $10 billion to build the 20 million-square-foot plant and would pay workers an average annual wage of $53,000.

While the Assembly is forging ahead with an incentive package for Foxconn, the top Republican in the state Senate says he's not yet sure whether the bill has the votes needed to pass in his chamber.

In calculating the additional taxes from the deal, the fiscal bureau relied on Foxconn-funded projections that company suppliers and local businesses such as restaurants would also create 22,000 good jobs outside the plant, for a total of up to 35,000. Kit Beyer, a spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, didn't immediately respond to an email and no one immediately replied to an email left in Foxconn's general inbox for media inquiries.

The memo did not account for additional investments to which Foxconn might later commit, such as a second facility the company is considering siting in Dane County.

What's more, borrowing for the interstate rebuild would leave the state on the hook for $408.3 million in interest and the sales tax exemption would cost the state $139 million.

The analysis also assumed that the jobs being generated by the deal in Racine and Kenosha counties would all be filled by Wisconsin workers. If fewer than 13,000 jobs materialize, it could take decades longer.

The break-even point could come even later, though. Duey Stroebel of Saukville saying recently it posed "no risk" to taxpayers. The two-year spending plan is now more than a month overdue.

Foxconn hopes to open the plant with 3,000 workers. After that year, payments to Foxconn would end and increased tax collections would ring in at about $115 million annually.

Every public dollar would generate $6.70 from Foxconn, the analysis said, and the plant would provide more job opportunities as well as a new manufacturing sector in Wisconsin.

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