MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The head of Wisconsin’s economic development agency said on Friday that the full board will be allowed to review a proposed $3 billion contract with the 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 had said that the board would be given only a staff report summarizing the deal, as is routine when dealing with agency contracts. But in a letter to board members Friday, Mark Hogan, WEDC chief executive, said the board members are now to have access to the contract on 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 flaw in the contract language.
The incentive package would provide nearly $3 billion in cash to Foxconn if the company invests $10 billion in a new flat-screen factory in southeastern Wisconsin and employs 13,000 people. The incentives already signed by Walker will provide $150 million worth of sales-tax exemptions on construction equipment and allow 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 the deal as a giveaway to Foxconn, saying it hasn’t provided enough guarantees to protect taxpayers.