Dear friend,

It has been a busy summer in the State Legislature. The 2017-19 state budget was due on June 30, but as of today, has still not been completed. In addition, in late July an announcement that technology manufacturer Foxconn has chosen Wisconsin for a new LCD large screen production facility was made at the White House that included up to $3 billion in Wisconsin taxpayer funded incentives.

State Budget Update:
When a budget is not passed on time, Wisconsin’s state government and funding continues at the levels of the previous budget. However, after almost two months of delay, there are concerns on the timing and certainty of new funding. This funding will impact state highway projects and local school district budget decisions. The Joint Finance Committee (on which I serve) has met twice in the past week to pass budget items for K-12 education, state building projects, and some Department of Natural Resources items. The unresolved budget items are transportation funding and tax policy, which are on the agenda for the next Joint Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday, September 5th.

I was pleased that the budget for K-12 education included an increase in funding after years of cuts under Governor Walker. However, when adjusted for inflation, the K-12 budget remains below funding levels from more than a decade ago when the state maintained a commitment to fund two-thirds the cost of public education. In fact, earlier this year the Oshkosh Area School District approved $1.3 billion in budget cuts based upon the anticipated amount of state funding. Despite the per pupil funding increase the school district is projected to receive from the state, it's not enough to keep up with the district's $2.5 million in rising costs, which include increases in salaries, health insurance, benefits and a 1.26 percent cost-of-living increase.

I was also pleased to see $3.2 million included in the budget for community and school mental health collaboration grants in the K-12 budget. However, I was disappointed at the continued expansion of the taxpayer funded private school program that will be paid for with increased local property taxes.

Foxconn Proposal:
On July 26, Foxconn Technology Group announced a plan to potentially invest $10 billion to build a display panel plant in Wisconsin that would employ 3,000 workers with the potential for 13,000 workers in the near future. The plan would be based on conditions included in a legislative package that includes up to $3 billion in subsidies from state taxpayers, removal of environmental standards, and significant financial incentives at the local level. The proposal lacks details and timelines and all economic assumptions are based on data included in a report that was paid for by Foxconn. Here is an overview of the plan.

Since the announcement, there has been an aggressive campaign led by Governor Walker in an effort to get the $3 billion incentive package signed into law. He was successful in getting the State Assembly to pass the plan just 17 days after the announcement. The State Senate has yet to consider the plan, however a hearing was held before the Joint Finance Committee on August 22 where I was able to ask questions.

I oppose the plan because it is irresponsible and puts all of the risk with the taxpayers of Wisconsin. The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau analysis of the state incentive package for the Foxconn proposal estimated that under the best case scenario, taxpayers would break even by 2043. It could be even longer if fewer people are hired, or there is significant investment in automation at the proposed facility. In addition, there are plenty of questions about the feasibility of the plant, the history and reputation of the company, and the future market for LCD screens in an increasingly competitive marketplace with changing consumer tastes. There is nothing in the legislation regarding job requirements – how many, how long they last, whether they go to foreign workers, etc. And I am greatly concerned about reducing environmental protections for a foreign company with a poor environmental track record.

There may be changes made to any bill that comes before the State Senate which means it would have to be considered again by the State Assembly.

Have a great Labor Day weekend, and if you have any questions or feedback, please contact my office.


Sincerely
,

      

State Representative, 54th Assembly District


 

 

 

 

 

Contact Me

Representative Gordon Hintz
109 North State Capitol
P.O. Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708

Toll Free: (888) 534-0054
Fax: (608) 282-3654

Email: Rep. Hintz@legis.wi.gov

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