Fiscal estimates show Gov. Scott Walker’s incentives package for Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn would cost the state and local governments nearly $150 million in lost sales taxes.
Walker has introduced a bill that would give Foxconn up to $3 billion in incentives to build a plant in southeastern Wisconsin. According to state agencies’ fiscal estimates, provisions blocking sales taxes on construction materials and equipment would cost the state about $139 million. Local governments would lose about $10.7 million.
Payroll and capital expenditure tax credits would cost the state about $2.85 billion.
The bill also calls for borrowing $252.4 million to rebuild Interstate 94. The interest on that borrowing from 2019 through 2042 would total $408.3 million.
Foxconn has said the $10 billion Wisconsin plant could bring up to 13,000 jobs.
The two-year rate freeze proposed by We Energies’ parent company comes with a catch: At the end of that period, electric customers would face the utility equivalent of a balloon payment on a mortgage.
The payment is projected to total $487.3 million by the end of this year and $850.8 million by the end of 2019.
It represents “the largest single driver of any future electric rate increase” for We Energies’ customers, WEC Energy Group, the parent company, has acknowledged.
The payment stems from deferred costs — some going back as far as 2002 — that are primarily related to the utility’s transmission system and a power plant in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
For two decades, Wisconsin was a shining example of what an open court system could be. The state Supreme Court was one of the few in the nation that conducted deliberations in public.
Now that experiment in good government is over.
In June, justices voted to close the doors. No longer will residents get to watch them argue about arcane judicial policies and codes of ethics. They will make those decisions in secret, and the people can just live with whatever they decide, no questions answered.
It was the end of an era in which transparency built trust and allowed voters to make informed decisions when a justice came up for re-election every 10 years. Since the 1990s, Wisconsinites have been able to watch the state’s legal luminaries thoughtfully consider both complex and mundane issues.
Granted, often wisdom and restraint were absent. Justices were sometimes no better than churlish children in a schoolyard. They insulted and berated each other. There was even a physical altercation.
They weren’t building trust. They were undermining it. Transparency caused embarrassment.