Rejecting Democrats' dire warnings of environmental destruction and due process devastation, the GOP-led Joint Finance Committee (JFC) on Tuesday passed an updated incentives package bill moving the $10 billion Foxconn Technology development plan closer to reality.
On a party-line vote (12-4), the Legislature's budget-writing committee signed off on an earlier Republican-led Assembly bill, with several key amendments proposed by Senate Republicans.
The committee's endorsement of the incentives package signals Senate Republican majority approval and sets up next week's floor debate and vote in the upper house, now scheduled for Tuesday morning.
JFC co-chair Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), who has grown clearly more fatigued by the constant political doom and gloom of Democrats opposed to the Foxconn deal, spelled out the myriad projected benefits of investing in a Taiwanese tech giant that wants to build a massive new plant in Wisconsin.
"Wisconsin, you're nuts if you don't take this offer," Darling said during the first leg of the finance committee's lengthy executive committee meeting Tuesday. Darling's aggravation with "all of the negativity" from JFC Democrats was palpable.
Committee member Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and his colleagues on the left took aim at a Senate amendment that gives Wisconsin's Supreme Court direct jurisdiction over legal issues arising from the Foxconn development deal.
"...(A)ny party may immediately appeal as of right to the Supreme Court from any order of a circuit court vacating, enjoining, reviewing, or otherwise relating to a decision by a state or local official, board, commission, condemnor, authority, or department concerning" the Electronics and Information Technology Manufacturing zone (EITM), the amendment states.
The incentives package creates the special zone in southeast Wisconsin in which Foxconn expects to build a manufacturing campus said to be the size of 11 Lambeau Fields.
Democrats decried the amendment for bypassing state appellate courts and going right to the Supreme Court, which is controlled by conservative justices.
"You totally eliminate an appeals process in our court system," Erpenbach said. "This is not about Foxconn anymore. This substantially changes the scope of the legislation."
Chill out, JFC Republicans countered. The amended bill doesn't abandon due process. It more immediately allows contested legal issues to be settled by the "court of last resort," where many of these cases could ultimately end up anyway.