Foxconn’s U.S. plant passes second vote; WSJ backtracks from iPhone display claims

The $3B tax subsidy package needed to persuade Foxconn to open a display plant in Wisconsin passed its second hurdle yesterday as the Wisconsin state assembly voted to approve the deal. This follows a vote by the jobs & economy committee earlier in the week …

There remain three further stages needed for formal approval. The next vote will be by the State Senate, followed by the joint finance committee, before going to the governor for final approval. That final stage at least will be a formality, governor Scott Walker a strong advocate for the deal.

There has been some confusion about what exactly the plant will make. Early reports referred only to large displays for TVs and monitors, but the WSJ last week suggested that it would also make LCD screens for iPhones.

The paper’s latest report does back away somewhat from this claim, repeating the idea that it will make small displays as well as large ones, but this time omitting any mention of the U.S. plant making anything for Apple.

Foxconn, best known for assembling iPhones in China, is planning to build a $10 billion, 20 million square-foot campus that will primarily produce high-resolution liquid-crystal displays used in smartphones and car dashboards in addition to TVs.

Controversy over the subsidy continues after a state analysis showed the cost to be at least $231k per job and the payback time around 25 years.

Speaking on the assembly floor earlier in the day, Rep. Gary Hebl, a Democrat who represents Sun Prairie, said “I don’t want to gamble with the taxpayers money and if I’m going to break even in 25 years, that’s a horrible gamble. I’m better off putting my money in a mattress.” He voted against the bill.

Concerns have also reportedly been raised about allowing Foxconn to forgo compliance with some environmental requirements.

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