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Economy & Business

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson Wonders if Illinois Should Offer Incentives to Foxconn

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)

Should Wisconsin be the only state making a major investment in the proposed Foxconn factory? Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson asked that question on Tuesday at a Rotary Club appearance in Milwaukee.

The Republican businessman says the huge plant in far southeastern Wisconsin likely would provide jobs for many Illinois residents. As a result, Johnson suggested that perhaps Illinois should share the burden that Gov. Scott Walker wants Wisconsin to take on in order to ensure Foxconn build its plant here.

The Republican governor is pushing a $3 billion package that would provide the Taiwanese manufacturer with financial incentives. The package also would exempt Foxconn from a number of state environmental regulations.

Walker says the investment is worth it because he says the plant, which will manufacture LCD screens, will be "transformative" for the state. Foxconn is promising to create 3,000 jobs at first, and says it eventually could employ up to 13,000. The plant would be located in either Racine County or Kenosha County. It would be Foxconn's first major manufacturing facility in the U.S. Walker says thousands of other jobs would be created as suppliers and other companies crop up to do business with Foxconn or its employees.

U.S. Sen. Johnson's questions about the incentives package are getting attention, because Democrats and environmentalists have been the chief critics of the incentives package. They have a variety of concerns, including: whether the state will reap the financial rewards that Walker is promising; whether people who most desperately need work will get the Foxconn jobs; and whether the state should roll back environmental regulations for the company.

A state Assembly committee approved the incentives package on Monday. The full Assembly is expected to vote on Thursday.

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