By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Foxconn Technology Group, the largest electronics manufacturer in the world, could still qualify for as much as $3 billion in state tax credits if it makes changes to its deal with the state in response to current plans for the plant the company now has under construction, Gov. Tony Evers said on Thursday.
“If we have a deal that is reflective of what they are doing, it’s logical that they will get the credits,” Evers told The Associated Press in an interview. “But if they don’t, that’s a whole different deal.”
Foxconn signed a contract with Wisconsin under Gov. Scott Walker in 2017 to earn nearly $4 billion in state and local tax incentives for the $10 billion display-screen manufacturing campus and plant it had planned to build. President Donald Trump heralded the deal as a sign of a revitalized American manufacturing economy, calling the envisioned plant the “eighth wonder of the world.”
But since then, Foxconn announced it was reducing the size of the factory to what is known as a Generation 6 plant. The plant envisioned now would make small thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal-display screens for cellphones and other devices.
Evers and other Democratic critics said that since the plant under construction differs from the one envisaged in the original deal, the terms of the contract must be revised.
Evers’ administration told Foxconn last month that until that happens, Foxconn can’t qualify for tax incentives.
“What they’re going to do now is completely different in many ways than what they were planning to do,” Evers said Thursday. “And words mean stuff. And therefore, in order for us to have a document that is reflective of what we’re expecting to do, I think we should sit down and talk about it. And I think we will.”
Evers said he was “confident” a new deal could be struck with Foxconn in early 2020, noting that Foxconn earlier this year broached the idea of amending the contract.
“They understand the seriousness of it,” Evers said. “They understand that the way the state of Wisconsin works is that we need to have some specificity over what we are paying for.”
Foxconn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, whose district includes the Foxconn project, said he’s open to making changes to the deal in response to what he called “technicalities.”
“But we shouldn’t say, ‘Jeez, because they might make a different screen they’re not going to get any help from the state after we made this promise,” Vos said. “That’s bad faith.”
Evers repeated that he wants the company to be successful.
“We also have to protect the taxpayers,” Evers said. “If they have 50 people, 100 people, 5,000 people, it doesn’t make any difference.”