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Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent Wisconsin editorials

December 23, 2019 GMT

Wisconsin State Journal, Dec. 22

Sen. Scott Fitzgerald is still stalling help for the homeless

The leaders of the Legislature’s budget committee didn’t like it last week when Gov. Tony Evers tried to pressure them to release money that’s in the state budget to help the homeless across Wisconsin.

Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, wrote that the Democratic governor’s call for a special meeting of the Joint Finance Committee would have “a chilling effect on our ability to work together.”

We’re all for bipartisan cooperation at the statehouse. But Darling and Nygren need a reality check: What’s really going to be chilling are the freezing if not sub-zero temperatures for homeless people who are stuck outside this winter without housing.

That’s a much more chilling experience than anything Darling or Nygren face in their scheduling disagreement with Gov. Evers.

Thousands of people across Wisconsin, many of them single mothers with children, need help getting out of cold. A special report by the State Journal and other newspapers across the state showed with telling statistics and stories that state government is at a critical point in addressing this distressing problem. Our state spends — and does — far less than neighboring states such as Minnesota to ensure its citizens have a place to call home during harsh winters.

The Republican-run state Assembly has approved eight bills to spend several million dollars from the state budget to help struggling people find housing, create more beds at emergency shelters, assist landlords with repairs to low-cost housing, and more.

Darling has co-sponsored some of the homeless bills, including Assembly Bill 119, which would provide $500,000 more annually to homeless shelters. AB 119 has earned unanimous votes of approval from key committees in the Assembly and Senate.

Yet Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, absurdly claimed last week that the homeless bills don’t have enough votes to pass his house. These proposals were mostly created under former Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, with then-Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch as a champion. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, called the bills “important” and “reasonable” last week.

A number of bills to combat homelessness passed the Assembly with broad bipartisan support. Unfortunately, the measures were never voted on in…

Yet Fitzgerald and a small number of small-minded colleagues, including Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, think they know better — even though they haven’t been involved or sought changes to the bills. Stroebel claims the proposals would be “throwing dollars at a complicated social problem.”

Stroebel is right about one thing — homelessness is complicated. But he’s wrong on the rest. The Wisconsin Interagency Council on Homelessness, created by Walker, has gone to great lengths to research best practices, get public input and ensure public dollars will be spent wisely.

Fitzgerald and Stroebel don’t seem to know much or care about the homeless. And they are stiffing desperate people during the holidays, when compassion for the less fortunate is supposed to be a priority.

Voters should demand action. The homeless problem isn’t going to be solved by ignoring it, which seems to be Fitzgerald and Stroebel’s flawed approach.

___

Racine Journal Times, Dec. 22

Foxconn tax credits shouldn’t be held hostage

If a company comes into your state and says it will create 13,000 jobs making screws, then turns around and says it will make bolts instead, who cares?

What does matter is that those jobs are created. That is what the company should be held accountable for.

In this case, we are not talking about screws and bolts, we are talking about liquid crystal display screens and other 21st century technology that Foxconn is on the forefront of.

When it was announced that Foxconn was coming to Wisconsin, the agreement was that the company would create up to 13,000 jobs with an estimated average salary of $53,875 over a period of up to six years.

The company won’t be eligible for state incentives if it doesn’t fulfill its job-creation and investment promises.

Last year, the company didn’t have enough qualified full-time employees and it didn’t get the tax credits. That is how the agreement was supposed to work.

This year, the company says it has enough qualified full-time employees. But the Evers administration is continuing to say that the company cannot get hiring tax credits unless they change the agreement to reflect what technology will be made in Mount Pleasant.

The state contends that because the facility has changed from a Gen. 10.5 to a Gen. 6, and work is being done on the property in Mount Pleasant by Foxconn Industrial Internet — which was not one of the companies that signed the agreement — that the contract should be amended to reflect those details.

Joel Brennan, secretary of the Department of Administration, said in an interview with The Journal Times that it is in Foxconn’s best interest to amend the contract to receive the tax credits.

“From a legal standpoint, the state cannot certify tax credits for the project and what they’re doing right now,” Brennan said. “We need to bring that into alignment and it’s in everybody’s best interest to come to an understanding to how we do that.”

Foxconn did approach the state originally to amend the contract and the state appears to be engaging with the company. But the tax credits shouldn’t be held hostage.

If it’s just about alignment, an addendum should be added and then development and incentives should continue as promised. But the dispute seems to be more political than anything.

If the governor backs down on promises because of a technicality, how does that look to other businesses wanting to move into Wisconsin?

Businesses have to adapt to market conditions. That means changing what products they manufacture based on demand and other economic factors.

It shouldn’t matter if Foxconn builds a Generation 6 plant, instead of a generation 10.5 plant. What matters more is that it builds it and hires workers.

Ever since Foxconn was announced, it’s been political. But jobs shouldn’t be political. Here in southeastern Wisconsin, Foxconn received bipartisan support because local officials understood that this development would be a game-changer.

Again if Foxconn falls through on its promises, it shouldn’t get tax credits. But the state shouldn’t give it reasons to leave the state. That is not good for anyone and will hurt the entire state in the long run.