And as these scumbuckets in suits put their feet on the shovels, we found out that this boondoggle is even more of a fraudulent scam. This was summed up well by Assembly Dem Leader Gordon Hintz, who wrote a column on Foxconn ahead of Donald Trump's appearance, and drew attention to the shifting reasons and sketchy details behind the Fox-con.
First of all, Rep. Hintz notes that there will be nowhere near the $10 billion investment that was promised by the foreign company, with fewer “indirect” jobs than the Fox-con package was based on, and a different product than the large screen displays that Foxconn claimed it would make.
The problem is the facility Foxconn is now building only requires a $2 billion to $3 billion investment and does not require a local supply chain, according to industry experts. Smaller screens don’t just mean a different project scope, they mean fewer jobs than the number promised when the state incentive package was passed9 months after the Fox-con was passed into law, Hintz points out that we still don’t know much about what state taxpayers is giving away billions for. And with each bit of Foxconn news that does come out, the parameters change, and it looks like an even bigger scam on the public.
The change in Foxconn's plans comes “as global panel makers face a glut of TV displays that likely will last for years,” according to the Nikkei Asian Review, a 140-year-old publication that covers Asian economics, industries and markets.
A deal of this magnitude, one involving handing billions of dollars in state taxpayer money to a privately owned company, requires transparency and accountability. Yet neither Foxconn nor the Walker administration have been straightforward about this ever-changing project.Related to the last part that Rep. Hintz brings up, this little detail seemed a bit ominous.
The project that was awarded to Wisconsin, approved by the Legislature and signed into contract by WEDC has fundamentally changed in ways that impact the project cost, investment, employment and tax subsidy. Yet very little has been shared with the public about the impacts of these changes.
And despite the repeated pledges by Foxconn to create 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin, last week the chairman of Foxconn, Terry Gou, said the company plans to replace 80 percent of workers with robots in the next 5 to 10 years. What will this mean for the workforce demands at Foxconn moving forward?
Snack robot is now serving cream puffs. pic.twitter.com/gHTkkcr2f4— Jessie Opoien (@jessieopie) June 28, 2018
But wait, Foxconn claims the smaller first factory is only the beginning!
The firm, however, has said “categorically” that it remains committed to investing the full $10 billion in what it has named the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park, and to creating 13,000 Wisconsin jobs with an average $53,875.Riiiight. Because THIS TIME, Foxconn is telling you the straight story, and these plans won’t “change” either. Maybe if you were Governor Dropout, you’d be dumb enough to beLIEve them, but I’m not a college dropout nor am I lifetime grifter/politician, so I don’t.
In a statement Thursday, Foxconn said it still plans to build the larger type of factory in a second phase of its project, along with "other next-generation manufacturing facilities."…
In its statement, Foxconn said it has always planned a phased approach of construction "to ensure that we continue to meet current and projected demand for advanced LCD panels and the other technologies and products that will be the focus of that campus."Foxconn says it could build the larger type of factory in a second phase of its project. The company has ample land available for such construction.
Some of the lack of transparency Rep. Hintz references relates to the contracts which Foxconn has been handing out to build the facility. These no-bid deals have included a sizable number of Walker and WisGOP donors, including general contractor Gilbane’s $359,000 to Walker’s campaigns over the years, and Walker donors are also in on the latest round of $14 million in contracts that were just announced this week.
(In fairness, the many Illinoisians that end up working at Foxconn will be familiar with the pay-to-play kickbacks, and impressed by the dollars being sent to donors. Maybe that’s the “new level” Walker and WisGOP hacks keep talking about with the Fox-con).
Another concern is that taxpayers will still be on the hook for the near-full amount of the billions in expenses for the Fox-con, even if they don’t hire the 13,000 individuals at the site that they claimed they would. Let’s go back to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s final summary of the Foxconn bill, and note this part.
Under the Act, "state payroll" means the amount of payroll apportioned to this state, as determined under the old corporate apportionment statutes. "Zone payroll" means the amount of state payroll that is attributable to wages paid by the claimant to full-time employees for services that are performed in the zone or that are performed outside the zone, but within the state, and for the benefit of the operations within the zone, as determined by WEDC. "Zone payroll" does not include the amount of wages paid to any full-time employees that exceeds $100,000. A "fulltime employee" means an individual who is employed in a job for which the annual pay is at least $30,000 and who is offered retirement, health, and other benefits offered to an individual who is required to work at least 2,080 hours per year.So a few thousand high-priced engineers overseeing the robots could give Foxconn as much of a taxpayer-funded handout as 13,000 line workers. But you know what won’t be scaled down even if fewer people work at a smaller Foxconn plant? The $386 million in state tax dollars earmarked to upgrade the highways around Foxconn, along with the hundreds of millions of dollars in local tax subsidies and infrastructure improvements to serve Foxconn.
And the amount of salaries paid by Foxconn “as determined by WEDC” shouldn’t make you feel confident at all, because WEDC was spending all day making tweets like this on its taxpayer-funded account.
Another example of #Foxconn’s amazing technology on display at groundbreaking event in Racine County - a demonstration of the company’s intelligent transportation technology. #MadeInWI pic.twitter.com/OPx8sKVOWG— WEDCNews (@WEDCNews) June 28, 2018
If the people of this state are stupid enough to keep Scott Walker and his lackeys at WEDC in power after November, do you think WEDC will do any kind of follow-up to verify Foxconn’s claims of employment and wages before giving them 17% of that money back in tax dollars? HELL NO! They’d probably go public and portray the inflated total as fact before Foxconn does!
As I’ve said before, the best thing that could happen for this state’s fiscal stability and future economic competitiveness is that today’s stunt is the last thing Foxconn does in the state, and that they leave ASAP. I don’t see that happening, unfortunately, because just like Republicans in DC, Scott Walker and the rest of the Wisconsin GOP will try to hurry the Foxconn development as much as they can before the November elections.
After all, the Fox-con has already set precedent in throwing out environmental rules for a designated site, and it enables GOPs to throw out so much money on this development in Fiscal Year 2019 that it’ll hamstring the Dems who will have to clean up the mess that will be left behind. And no matter how the paid-off media and GOP hacks like Scott Walker might try to portray it, the Foxconn seems like a grift and a boondoggle that becomes a bigger albatross for Wisconsin by the day.