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Activist group in Wausau stop: Foxconn deal a 'horrible,' 'terrible' way to spend $3 billionSubmitted: 08/21/2017
Activist group in Wausau stop: Foxconn deal a 'horrible,' 'terrible' way to spend $3 billion
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

WAUSAU - Robert Kraig was unequivocal in Wausau on Monday.

"This is a horrible way to spend $3 billion," said the executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin at an event.

Citizen Action is strongly against the $3 billion in state tax incentives offered to Foxconn. The Taiwanese company plans to build a $10 billion electronics plant in southeastern Wisconsin. The state Assembly approved the plan by a 59-30 vote last week.


Kraig said it was a bad deal all around, but an especially poor one for the Wausau area.

"I don't see why it would make sense for northcentral Wisconsin to take all of your money and put it into a factory so close to Illinois," he said. "The question is, in northcentral Wisconsin, where there has been a hemorrhaging of family-supporting jobs in the closure of paper mills and other factories and industrial jobs, [does] this make sense for the people of Wausau to put money into a huge factory on the Illinois border?"

Gov. Scott Walker has said repeatedly the entire state will benefit from the massive Foxconn building project and its operations.

"[There will be] over $4 billion a year just on the supply chain in this state. It's not all going to come from Racine or Kenosha counties," Walker said Friday in Rhinelander. "We're going to need people in every part of the state of Wisconsin."

Kraig doesn't buy it.

"We have some land for you in Florida if you believe they're going to be sourcing that to northcentral Wisconsin when they're that close to Chicago and they can get stuff in from overseas across the Great Lakes," Kraig said.

At Monday's event, Kraig made it clear he thought the $3 billion tax incentive was far too much. But he refused to say how much of a tax incentive would be appropriate.

"It's very questionable whether corporate subsidies create more opportunity, but if you're going to do them right, you have to tie the money down tight," Kraig said. "There have to be very clear clawbacks. A clawback is where, if you don't create the job, you have to give back the money."

Citizen Action is pushing to invest money in other state pursuits.

"If we took the $3 billion and invested it in education, it would create over 80,000 jobs," Kraig said.

Three southeastern Wisconsin Democrats joined 56 Assembly Republicans in voting for the Foxconn plan. Kraig said those votes were misguided, and that neither Assembly caucus has a jobs solution.

"This is what I would say to the minority [party] in the Legislature right now," Kraig said. "Where is their plan to create 80,000 jobs?"

The legislation now heads to the state Senate.

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