MADISON, Wis. – The head of Wisconsin's economic development agency said Friday that the full board will be allowed to review a proposed $3 billion contract with Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group before voting on it.
The move comes after mounting pressure on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Until Friday, the agency said that the board would be given only a staff report summarizing the deal, as is routine when dealing with agency contracts. In a letter to board members Friday, agency chief executive Mark Hogan said the board members will now have access to the contract Monday afternoon. The vote is scheduled for Wednesday.
"I have said many times this is a complex transaction and it is important to get it done right, both for the company and its investors, as well as WEDC, the state and our taxpayers," Hogan wrote. "Given we are very close on the contract language, and given the size of the award, now is the appropriate time to make it available to you as board members."
He said the review will happen in closed session and will be confidential. The contract will be made available to the public after it's signed.
Democrats have been calling for the full contract language to be made available. Earlier this week, Republican legislative leaders publicly agreed and also said board members should see the contract before a vote. A vote was delayed in October because of an unexplained problem with the contract language.
The incentive package provides nearly $3 billion in cash to Foxconn if it invests $10 billion in a new flat-screen factory in southeastern Wisconsin and employs 13,000 people. The package already signed by Walker provides $150 million in sales tax exemptions on construction equipment and allows the company to build in wetlands and waterways.
Walker and supporters have heralded the deal as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make the state a hub for the high-tech electronics industry. Foxconn is the world's largest contract manufacturer of electronics and is best known for making iPhones.
Opponents have decried it as a giveaway to Foxconn, saying it hasn't provided enough guarantees to protect taxpayers.