Wisconsin's governor really hates the Foxconn deal

Governor wants to renegotiate

By Chris Isidore, CNN Business
Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

Tony Evers, the Democratic governor of Wisconsin, says he doesn't think Foxconn will ever add 13,000 jobs in his state.

And he says it's time to drop the lush incentive deal his predecessor used to lure the Taiwanese electronics company to Wisconsin.

In 2017, Foxconn and former Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, struck the deal to build a large manufacturing plant, promising it would be a first step to creating a kind of Silicon Valley in Wisconsin.

The deal was enormously controversial. The state agreed to give Foxconn $3 billion in tax cuts and financial handouts based on the number of jobs the company creates. But it could also get potentially more than $1 billion in incentives from local governments.

The overall package would be one of the most expensive state incentive packages ever granted to a company.

Evers has been a critic of the deal, and it was an issue in the 2018 election in which he defeated Walker.

At a press conference Wednesday, Evers said it was an "unrealistic expectation" that Foxconn would meet its goal to hire 13,000 workers.

"The bottom line is they've shrunk their expectations. That's what they're communicating now," Evers said. The package of tax cuts and other incentives awarded Foxconn needs to be renegotiated, he said.

In a statement Thursday, Foxconn said it was "committed to our contract" with the state and "open to further consultation, collaboration, and new ideas." It did not say how many jobs it believes it will be able to create.

Foxconn has previously conceded that its plans in Wisconsin have changed from when it originally sealed the deal with the state.

By the time Foxconn broke ground last year, it had shifted plans for what the Wisconsin facility would make — from large screens used for televisions to small screens used as a component of other forms of electronics.

Then in January a Foxconn official suggested the company might drop manufacturing plans altogether and would use it only as a research and technology campus. That prompted a phone call to the Foxconn chairman from President Donald Trump, who has been a proponent of the plant. Trump got a promise that manufacturing would remain part of the facility. Foxconn insisted at that time that it would stick with its 13,000 job target.

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