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The Latest: Conservative group against Foxconn deal

Posted August 3

— The Latest on Wisconsin state Assembly committee hearing on $3 billion tax incentive bill for Foxconn manufacturing plant (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

The Wisconsin chapter of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity is making a rare break with Republican Gov. Scott Walker and coming out against a $3 billion tax incentive package that's part of a deal for Foxconn Technology Group to build a plant in the state.

Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin director Eric Bott released a statement Thursday saying it can't support refundable tax credits offered under the deal signed by Walker. The national group is funded by the conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

Bott says the group is a free market advocate and as such "staunchly" opposes government tax incentives.

It's doubtful the group's opposition will stop the proposal that's moving quickly through the Republican-controlled state Legislature. Its statement came as an Assembly committee was holding a public hearing on the bill.

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3:30 p.m.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin says he has offered up a shuttered Oscar-Mayer plant as a potential site for a electronics giant Foxconn.

Foxconn has agreed to build a $10 billion plant in southeastern Wisconsin. Gov. Scott Walker has authored a bill that would hand the company $3 billion in incentives.

Soglin said Thursday that Madison Region Economic Partnership officials told him last week that Foxconn is interested in building a 600-job facility in Madison and was looking for open green space.

The mayor said he offered up the Oscar-Mayer plant, which is in the city, as well as two other green fields. He acknowledged Foxconn isn't looking for an existing urban facility but the Oscar-Mayer plant makes sense for the company.

Soglin, who is mulling a run for governor, called Walker's $3 billion incentive package "over the top." He warned that Madison wouldn't get into a "race to the bottom" in incentives and doesn't need to "give away the farm" to get Foxconn.

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2:45 p.m.

Wisconsin's economic development director says the exact location for a massive electronics manufacturing plant will be announced soon.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Secretary Mark Hogan told lawmakers Thursday that Foxconn Technology Group's selection of the 1,000-acre site was "imminent" and should be announced within two weeks. Foxconn is eyeing sites in Kenosha and Racine counties, which are in southeast Wisconsin in between Milwaukee and the Illinois border near Chicago.

Foxconn plans to invest $10 billion on the first liquid crystal display panel manufacturing plant located outside of Asia. It would employ 3,000 initially and up to 13,000 over six years.

Hogan says wages for entry-level jobs would be $20 an hour. He says the annual average salary would be nearly $54,000.

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2 p.m.

The chairman of Foxconn Technology Group is reiterating to Wisconsin state lawmakers that the Taiwanese electronics company plans to invest $10 billion in the state and eventually employ 13,000 people at a massive display panel factory.

Testimony from Foxconn CEO Terry Gou was read at the beginning of a state Assembly committee hearing Thursday on a $3 billion tax incentive package. Construction of the plant is contingent upon the Republican-controlled Legislature passing the tax break bill.

Gou said in statement read by committee chairman Rep. Adam Neylon that the project will "transform the American electronics industry" with the first liquid crystal display monitor plant outside of Asia.

Minority Democrats and others have questioned whether Foxconn will follow through with the investment and job-creation promises.

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8:22 a.m.

The public is getting a chance to tell Wisconsin lawmakers what they think of a $3 billion tax incentive package that's part of an agreement struck with electronics giant Foxconn Technology Group.

A Wisconsin state Assembly committee scheduled a hearing on the proposal Thursday.

The Taiwanese-based Foxconn has pledged to invest $10 billion in southeast Wisconsin on a liquid crystal display panel assembly plant that could employ 13,000 people over six years. The incentives are tied to job creation and investment targets.

Other parts of the bill include borrowing more than $250 million to rebuild Interstate 94 near where the plant would be and the waiving of numerous environmental permit requirements and regulations to speed construction.

Foxconn has said it hopes to open the plant in 2020 with 3,000 workers.

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