When Wisconsin governor Scott Walker announced a $3 billion corporate welfare plan for a new Foxconn plant in his state, Foxconn watchers warned that the company had a long history of breaking its new factory promises after sucking up billions in taxpayer dollars.
Walker didn't believe the warnings: instead, he started bulldozing Wisconsonites' family homes to make way for Foxconn's promised factory.
Hey, guess what?
The bill for Foxconn's taxpayer-funded subsidy has gone up to more than $4.1 billion. Also: Foxconn has scaled the factory plan waaaay back: instead of a $10 billion "Generation 10.5" plant, it will build a much smaller "Generation 6" plant.
Nearly all the work in a Gen 6 plant is robotic.
Foxconn is a notorious polluter, leaving behind uninhabitable toxic wastelands where it builds. Scott Walker has exempted Foxconn from state environmental laws, "allowing it to discharge materials into wetlands and reroute streams during construction and operation." Walker also waived the requirement for an environmental impact statement prior to construction.
The plant will use 7,000,000 gallons of Great Lakes water.
In retrospect, it's clear that Walker had a strong hand to play in negotiations with Foxconn. The company had to locate in a Great Lakes state because of the huge amount of water needed to clean the glass used in manufacturing LCD screens. And no other Great Lakes state came close to offering the $4.1 billion Foxconn is getting. Michigan came the closest, offering $2.3 billion, but it was partly a tax subsidy rather than cash. As for Ohio, fellow Republican Gov. John Kasich condemned the Wisconsin deal. "I'll tell you one thing," he said, "it's not going to take us 40 years to make back the investment we make. We don't buy deals."
Over the summer, Walker's response to such criticism was pointed. "There's a whole lot of people out there scrambling to try and come up with a reason not to like this," he said in July of last year. "They can go suck lemons. The rest of us are going to cheer and figure out how we are going to get this thing going forward." Several weeks later, he called the deal a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" that will be "transformational" for the state. "These LCD displays will be made in America for the very first time, right here in the state of Wisconsin."
The Walker administration did not return repeated requests for comment about when taxpayers would recoup the Foxconn subsidies.
Wisconsin's $4.1 billion Foxconn factory boondoggle [Bruce Murphy/The Verge]
(via Super Punch)