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Amendment to Foxconn bill adds $20 million for worker training programs

Friday afternoon Assembly Republicans released proposed changes to the Foxconn legislation.

The bill and amendments will be discussed and vote on at an executive session of the Committee on Jobs and the Economy Monday.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) says this amendment address concerns expressed during the eight hour long public hearing on the bill last week. However Democrats are already blasting the proposal, saying the information came too late to vote by  Monday.

The amendment adds $20 million to the 2019-2021 biennium, dedicated to worker training programs. Those programs will be developed by area colleges and the Department of Workforce Development.

Speaker Vos says the changes also encourage hiring Wisconsin-based workers when possible.

“It's really important for our caucus to make sure that as we make this investment, which is historic in nature, that we continue to do everything we can to maximize the positive impact the wages and the families of people who are Wisconsin workers,” Speaker Vos said.

Speaker Vos says the language makes it clear how tax credits will be awarded.

“This amendment clarifies that to say that the only jobs that would qualify for the worker tax credits, would be those who earn between $30,000 a year and $100,000 a year,” Speaker Vos said.

Republicans say the changes also increase environmental protections, after concerns about filling in wetlands and increased flooding risks.

“We directly instruct the DNR to identify and consider wetland mitigation solution that are in the same watershed, if at all possible,” Speaker Vos said.

Shortly after the Republicans released their amendments Friday, Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) ripped the timeline.

In a statement he said, ““It’s remarkable that with a vote scheduled for Monday, we just received the Republican amendment. The legislature and the public will have little to no time to review these changes. It’s clear that Republicans are trying to rush through the process to avoid as much scrutiny as possible. We need strong protections for Wisconsin workers, contractors, and local communities for this deal to work. We also need to know that our environment is protected and that we have strong measures that allow us to get our money back if Foxconn has a change in business plans or is unable to deliver. It’s clear that Republicans are trying to appear proactive without actually fixing the concerns that many people have with this bill.”

Still, Republicans say though it’s a tight timeline, it’s reasonable. The chair of the Committee on Jobs and the Economy, Rep. Adam Neylon (R-Pewaukee) says Democrats will have until 10 AM Monday to propose their own amendments.

Rep. Neylon says he believes the Republican amendment addresses Democrats concerns.

“I do know that we’ve made every effort to include them in the process and to get their feedback,”  Rep. Neylon said. “And quite frankly a lot of  language that we have in this amendment would not be there without the work of democrats in his caucus.”

Speaker Robin Vos says he expects the full Assembly to take up the Foxconn bill August 17 and he’s confident he has the votes to pass it.

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