State Sen. Jon Erpenbach
Op Ed

Billions for Foxconn, Failure for Rural Wisconsin

Rural economic development bill passes Assembly 95 to 0, fails to get a vote in the Senate.

By - Apr 9th, 2018 12:32 pm
Foxconn chairman Terry Gou and Governor Scott Walker signing a memorandum of understanding. Photo from the State of Wisconsin.

Foxconn chairman Terry Gou and Governor Scott Walker signing a memorandum of understanding. Photo from the State of Wisconsin.

The only silver lining for rural Wisconsin to the Foxconn 4.5 billion in tax dollars was the introduction of a bill that granted $50 million a year to rural Wisconsin communities for economic development. While $50 million seems dwarfed by the billions Foxconn will get, at least it was something. Somehow after passing the Joint Committee on Finance, which I am a member of, and the State Assembly this bill died in the Senate. Clearly the votes were there. It passed out of the Joint Committee on Finance unanimously and passed out of the Assembly 95 to 0.

The disappointment here is great because the bill planned to allocate a strong amount of flexible funds to rural Wisconsin to improve economic development outcomes. I voted for this bill because I could envision transportation and infrastructure needs, redevelopment of downtowns that have been so hurt by Governor Walker’s opposition to the Historic Tax Credit and creative partnerships to support growing smaller businesses in every corner of the 27th Senate District. I am not sure who supported killing this bill that was authored by Republican Representative Travis Tranel at the request of Governor Walker, but I am sure curious.

No one has been hurt more in this state and been slower to recover after the 2008 economic crisis than our rural communities. Places like Milwaukee have been more successful in their recovery because there is easy access to the high tech and infrastructure needs that businesses need to grow in an emerging market. Communities that are more rural are pounding the pavement every day just trying to get a broadband provider interested in wiring their whole community. Ten miles out of the Madison metropolitan area are communities without functioning broadband working to rebuild and redevelop just to survive.

I have heard that the Rural Economic Development program may come back next session but with less money. I hope it does come back, but with more money. We need to support our rural communities. Local governments just do not have the means to help with crippling caps on spending from the state. If we can afford $4.5 billion for Foxconn, we can afford $50 million a year for our rural communities. For more information on the failure of AB 912 to pass contact my office at or 608-266-6670 or 888-549-0027.

Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, is a member of the Wisconsin state Senate.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

4 thoughts on “Op Ed: Billions for Foxconn, Failure for Rural Wisconsin”

  1. Tom says:

    On behalf of all rural Wisconsinites I say, THANKS FOR NOTHING WALKER. THANKS FOR NOTHING REPUBLICANS!
    Wisconsin got FOXCONNED by these crooked liars! Vote Walkwr out in November!!

  2. Jake currently of the MKE says:

    Although I hope the rural folks and farmers that still support walker and Trump they’ve been fooled by grifters.

  3. Terry says:

    Huge swaths of Northern Wisconsin are imbued with Poverty and Hopelessness thanks to Walker and Republicans indifference, gross ineptitude and complete negligence. How can we make it better? Easy.

    Dump Walker and Legalize Cannabis!

  4. Caligula says:

    Yes, Walker Foxconned Wisconsin for 4.5 billion dollars while rural parts of the state get nothing but more taxes. Agreed Terry, it’s time to dump Walker and grow a real economy in Wisconsin and I do mean grow republicans. Get out of the way GOP!!

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