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Author: Jon Peacock

Foxconn Trouble: An overview of what is at stake now in a disputed deal gone wrong from the start

For much of this year, Wisconsin officials have been trying to meet with Foxconn and renegotiate the contract that provides for large cash subsidies to be paid to the corporation if it meets certain job and spending targets. According to the Secretary of the Department of Administration, Joel Brennan, the unilateral choices made by Foxconn to build something much different and far smaller than originally promised mean that the state and Foxconn should “work together to ‘right size’ the contract through the amendment process.” It was actually Foxconn that first suggested that the contract should be renegotiated, but it...

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Preliminary census data for Wisconsin shows state’s poverty level lowest since before Great Recession

New Census data released in September contained mixed news relating to national trends in income, poverty and health insurance coverage across the United States. The new data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) show that there were 38.1 million Americans in poverty in 2018. That’s an unacceptably large number, but there are a few positive findings in the new poverty and income data: The official poverty measure fell for the fourth straight year in 2018, dropping to 11.7% from 12.3% in 2017 That change reflects 1.4 million fewer people in poverty last year, compared to 2017, and for the...

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Wisconsin’s TANF financial assistance program is failing to help enough people climb out of poverty

The law creating the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program (TANF) turned 23 years old on August 22, and it has not improved with age. At the national level and here in Wisconsin, TANF is now serving only a very small fraction of the families who are living in poverty and may be eligible for assistance. In Wisconsin, if we compare the share of families with income below the federal poverty level who got direct cash support in 2017 to the ratio in 1996 when TANF began, 52,000 fewer families are now getting that assistance. The erosion of direct...

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Refusal by Legislators to expand Medicaid budget is costing Wisconsin money and lives

The Medicaid budget approved by the legislature this week will cost state tax taxpayers far more than the budget recommended by the governor, yet will accomplish far less to improve access to health care. Ideological opposition to expanding Medicaid is costing Wisconsin a lot of money. The legislature’s budget reduces total Medicaid spending from all sources by almost $1 billion, compared to the governor’s budget. Even though it adds more than $320 million of state general purpose revenue, state tax dollars, to the Medicaid increase proposed by the Governor, the legislature’s budget captures almost $1.3 billion less from federal...

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Reducing the Risk: Ideas to improve Foxconn contract so taxpayers actually see a benefit

Governor Evers and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) should sit down with Foxconn and talk about options for making the contract better for all involved. Whether they can and should actually sign a new contract is a much harder question to answer and will depend on the negotiations. A new deal is worth pursuing because it could potentially reduce the risk that Foxconn will drop its plans for a manufacturing facility in Racine County. As someone who thinks the original deal was far too expensive, a year or so ago I might not have been bothered if Foxconn...

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An Economic Tug-of-War: How Wisconsin can win its treasury battles without fighting other states

Economic skirmishes among the states are taking a heavy toll on state and local treasuries. Halting the interstate war over jobs can and should be a cause that attracts conservatives as well as liberals. Inspired by the withdrawal of Amazon.com’s plans for a 2nd headquarters in New York City, and by the potential debacle of Foxconn’s broken promises in Wisconsin, Good Jobs First is proposing a way to end the economic war among the states. What is this war? It is a battle where states and local governments bid against each other for economic development projects in a way...

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