August 3, 2017 / 10:52 PM / a year ago

Critics of Wisconsin's proposed Foxconn plant voice concerns

MADISON, Wis. (Reuters) - Wisconsin’s proposed $3 billion incentive package for a new LCD screen plant by Taiwan’s Foxconn is in danger of being pushed through the state’s Republican-controlled legislature too quickly, Democratic critics said on Thursday.

Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou (L) shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump in Wisconsin, in Washington, U.S. July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, hopes to open a $10 billion plant in 2020 at a 1,000-acre site in southeastern Wisconsin. It will initially employ 3,000 people but that number could rise to 13,000, officials have said.

Proponents including President Donald Trump and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker have touted the project’s investment potential and job creation, including an expected 22,000 ancillary and 10,000 construction jobs.

But some critics see the deal as corporate welfare and caution against a hasty approval process.

Foxconn is a major supplier to Apple Inc for its iPhones, but the company has not said if the Wisconsin factory would produce any parts for Apple.

At a public hearing to discuss the plan on Thursday, some Democrats bemoaned what they view as a rush.

“Why do we have to be held ransom for $3 billion when they should be able to come here just based on our credible work force, based on the resources we have here?” Democratic state Representative Amanda Stuck said at the hearing.

However, state officials called the deal “historic” and said it would be “transformational” for the state’s economy. Foxconn is also weighing an additional business in Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.

“We cannot let this opportunity pass us by,” Scott Neitzel, secretary of the state Department of Administration, told legislators.

Republican Walker ordered the state legislature into special session on Tuesday to consider the incentive package. Legislators have previously said that a vote could be held this month.

Democrats said they want to see the fine print of the offer.

“It’s kind of hard to be for or against this when you don’t have enough information,” Democratic state Representative David Crowley said.

Additional reporting and writing by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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