Gov. Scott Walker Monday will approve up to $3 billion in subsidies for a Racine County flat screen plant, binding the state’s economic hopes and his own political future to the investment proposed by an Asian electronics giant.
The 2:30 p.m. bill signing at Gateway Technical College in Sturtevant will clear the way for the Walker administration to negotiate a final contract with Foxconn Technology Group of Taiwan in the coming days.
Walker and GOP lawmakers have promised that the Foxconn Technology Group plant will bring thousands of jobs and massive investment to Wisconsin, transforming the state’s economy.
Democrats have questioned the price tag, saying that there’s too great a cost to the subsidies and exemptions from environmental rules that will be going to Foxconn.
Wisconsin state government has been bracing for the looming workforce crisis for years.
“We’ve had quite a lot of warning for this,” said Dennis Winters, chief economist for the Department of Workforce Development. “I published on this back in 2000. We had two recessions through there that let some of the pressure out of the pot.”
The state has implemented a number of strategies — such as the Fast Forward worker training grant program, which will grow to a $76.9 million total investment since 2013 in the budget headed for Gov. Scott Walker’s desk this week.
But the Walker administration has deemed “unachievable” some strategies recommended by the Governor’s Council on Workforce Investment, specifically encouraging skilled college graduates to stay in or relocate to Wisconsin by offering tax credits for student loan forgiveness and moving costs.
The state plan outlining how Wisconsin intends to comply with the federal law known as the Every Student Succeeds Act will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education on Monday, but without Gov. Scott Walker’s signature.
Walker sent a letter to state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers saying he would not endorse the plan and calling on Evers to submit another that incorporates “bold reforms” for turning around poorly performing schools.
“Your bureaucratic proposal does little to challenge the status quo for the benefit of Wisconsin’s students,” Walker said in the letter to Evers, who is also one of his Democratic challengers for the 2018 election.
Evers said the plan was drafted with input from a bipartisan group of stakeholders he calls the “equity council,” composed of educators, lawmakers, civil rights advocates, school choice proponents and others, including a representative from Walker’s office.