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Wisconsin Senate Leader Changes Tone On Foxconn Package

Fitzgerald Says He Hasn't Asked Senators For Vote Count

(WPR)---State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Thursday he's prepared to move forward with the massive state incentive package for tech manufacturer Foxconn later this month.

He said he's expecting a Senate public hearing on the bill Tuesday, August 22. 

Earlier this month, Fitzgerald said finishing the state budget, which is more than a month past its deadline, should be prioritized over the Foxconn deal. He changed his tone Thursday. 

"If we can get both of these things done simultaneously, and get this stuff kicked out of the finance committee, then we'd be in a good position to probably finish up the budget and also get Foxconn done, once people are comfortable with that bill," he said. 

Fitzgerald noted, however, that he's still not sure exactly how much support there is for the $3 billion deal in the Senate.

After a meeting with Walker administration officials Thursday afternoon, Fitzgerald said he wants to give Senate Republicans more time to look at the bill.

"I didn't sit in there and ask anybody to raise their hand to see if they were supportive because I want them to go back, especially with the answers they got today, and weigh whether or not they think the package is sufficient enough to warrant their support," Fitzgerald said.

Earlier in the week, Fitzgerald also said senators were considering adding benchmarks to state law that would require Foxconn to create a certain number of jobs by certain dates.

But after the Thursday meeting, Fitzgerald he’s "comfortable" with those benchmarks being set in the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC)’s contract negotiations with Foxconn.

"What was made apparent today is that those benchmarks need to be negotiated into the contract and that sounds like something that WEDC is absolutely trying to do, to make sure that happens," he said.

Fitzgerald said he doesn't think the state Senate will offer many changes to the Foxconn incentive package.

The state Assembly has already held a public hearing on the deal. The full Assembly is expected to vote on it next week.

Editor's Note: This story was updated with original reporting from WPR at 6:07 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017.

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