Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a bill on Monday granting $3 billion in tax incentives to Foxconn, paving the way for the Taiwan electronics giant to build a manufacturing plant in the state. Foxconn, maker of Apple's iPhone, is expected to invest up to $10 billion to build a flat-screen facility in the state, with the promise of at least 3,000 new jobs, and possibly as many as 13,000. Wisconsin would provide up to $3 billion in tax subsidies as job promises are met, the highest U.S. government subsidy ever for a foreign company, according to fact-checking website PolitiFact. Walker signed the incentive package into law Monday, despite opposition from Democrats who saw the tax subsidy as too generous. Wisconsin is one of several "Rust Belt" states that buoyed Donald Trump to last year's surprise presidential election victory on his promise to bring back manufacturing jobs lost to automation and cross-border trade. Trump hailed the deal at the White House in July, saying it displayed Foxconn's "faith and confidence in the future of the American economy." Walker, a fellow Republican who competed against Trump for the party's presidential nomination, on Monday called the deal "transformational."
"We can see this is going to be a benefit all across the state," Walker said. "There are going to be good-paying jobs for people for generations to come."
Walker said the tax subsidies spread out over 15 years would spur jobs at the 20 million square foot (1.9 million square meter) Foxconn plant, as well as prompt growth in ancillary companies and related industries. But Democrats and progressives have criticized the deal as a giveaway that will not pay off for at least 25 years. The state legislature approved the bill signed by Walker on a largely party-line vote. The governor and state legislators "are responsible for committing us to send billions to a foreign corporation instead of investing it here," said Scot Ross, head of the progressive group One Wisconsin Now. The Foxconn plant would break ground next year and begin operating in 2020, Walker said.