Foxconn bill authorizes I-94 borrowing, limits permitting requirements 7/30/2017
7/28/2017, Milwaukee Biz Times – The legislation intended to authorize an incentive package for Foxconn Technology Group’s $10 billion investment in Wisconsin also authorizes borrowing for the Interstate 94 North-South project, eliminates certain permit requirements and gives municipalities supporting the project flexibility in creating tax incremental financing.
Gov. Scott Walker released a draft of the bill Friday afternoon along with calling lawmakers into a special session that is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Monday.
Walker and Foxconn chairman Terry Gou signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday establishing the company would build a LCD manufacturing campus in the state and create up to 13,000 jobs in exchange for $3 billion in tax incentives. The company would pay out nearly $1 billion in wages and benefits annually if all of the positions are filled, according to an Ernst and Young economic impact report.
The tax credits will be refundable, meaning the state would have to pay Foxconn if the tax credit amount in a given year exceeds the company’s tax liability.
The bill also establishes that WEDC must revoke the tax credits if the company supplied false or misleading information to get them in the first place, leaves the enterprise zone to perform the same work elsewhere or ceases operations and does not resume them within 12 months.
The draft bill would authorize the state to contract up to $252.4 million in general public obligation debt for the I-94 North-South project. The Department of Transportation would not be able to spend that money, however, without also being awarded federal funding.
The memorandum between the state and company established several other requirements for the state, including changes to TIF laws. The draft released by Walker indicates municipalities creating tax increment districts in an “electronics and information technology manufacturing zone” will be able to start the district this year, even if it is established after Oct. 1 when they would normally be considered as starting at the beginning of next year.
The municipalities will also have flexibility to create a larger than normal TIF district and incur expenditures outside the district but in the same county “provided the expenditure benefits the (TIF district).”
Other changes in the bill include:
- Any permit for approval of a new manufacturing facility in the special enterprise zone is not considered a “major action,” exempting the project from certain environmental impact requirements.
- The Department of Natural Resources will not have to provide an exemption for the discharge of dredged material or fill material into a nonfederal wetland located in the special enterprise zone. No state permit is required for discharging those materials in a federal waterway, but federal permits still are.
- Adverse impacts to federal and nonfederal waterways will have to be offset at a ratio of two acres to one, more than the current 1.2 acre requirement.
The DNR is limited from requiring permits in most circumstances for the construction of bridges, culverts, artificial water bodies, removal of topsoil from water ways and changing the course of a stream.
- Cities and villages are authorized to contract for the acquisition of water, sewer and wastewater treatment facilities using the design-build method, allowing them to avoid following bidding requirements for public works projects.
- Allows the Department of Administration to make grants to local governments for costs related to development in electronics and information technology zones.
Requires the DOA secretary to appoint someone as the economic development liaison to perform economic development-related services.
“This is a once-in-a-century opportunity for our state and our country, and Wisconsin is ready,” Walker said. “Foxconn plans to bring the future of high-tech manufacturing to America, and Wisconsin is going to lead the way. I am encouraged by the bipartisan support we have seen for Wisconn Valley, and I call on the Legislature to support this measure.”