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Lawmakers: State budget should be passed before Foxconn bill

 

As lawmakers struggle to reach the finish line when it comes to the state budget, they're also in the middle of another big project.

The legislature is working to approve a $3 billion incentives package to help lure Foxconn to the state.

Last week, the tech-giant announced its plans to invest $10 billion in the state and create up to 13,000 jobs.

"For us the biggest priority is making sure that we have Foxconn moving along," Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told reporters in Madison Tuesday.

The bill to bring Foxconn to Wisconsin is moving along quickly at the Capitol with a public hearing set for Thursday.

"We are going to provide every opportunity for people to make sure their voice is heard in this process," said State Rep. Adam Neylon, chairman of Committee on Jobs and Economy. 

However, with a state budget a month overdue, some lawmakers say the budget should be the priority.

"The question is do you want to do the budget first and make sure we can fund public schools? Or do you want to rush through this package which we know no details for, and can't verify any information, and involves considerable taxpayer money going to a foreign company? Is that more important than our public schools," said State Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh.

Hintz added lawmakers need to look over all the details in the Foxconn deal before moving forward.

"Again, I'm not sure why we're rushing something if it's such a good deal," he said.

Lawmakers say transportation continues to be the hold up with the state budget. Members of the Senate and Assembly say if the Foxconn bill moves forward, they're hopeful the two could run parallel and pass around the same time. 

"Foxconn is important, it is absolutely important there is no reason we couldn't run them together, but I think to put Foxconn before the budget would be a strategic error. I think we have to as legislators do our jobs and pass that budget first," said State Sen. Roger Roth, R-Appleton. 

Roth said while he supports the Foxconn deal, the budgets needs to get done.

"We've got to give certainty to our schools to let them know the kind of investment they will be getting so they can plan their school years. We have to let our DOT know the kind of infrastructure spending they'll be able to support in 2018," Roth said.

The public hearing is set for Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in Madison.