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Foxconn, Waker, Trump to announce plant

Foxconn Workers

All of Wisconsin is apparently agog over the Foxconn plant announcement that is coming this afternoon. Still, color me skeptical. Rumors are that Wisconsin is offering a huge tax break to Foxconn in return for building the plant, and the state has certainly paved the way by stomping on unions and generally making the living wage a past dream, something that Foxconn is certainly going to appreciate. But rumors abound that the state is offering somewhere between $100,000 and $300,000 per job in tax "bounty" for the plant. I'm not sure that the state will be able to actually agree to pony up a tax break that big, particularly in view of the current inability to pass a state budget even without the complication of a huge tax break for business. It's not at all clear where this leaves the local governments that will still need to provide services for the plant, their employees, and more.

But perhaps more concerning is that Foxconn has a history of announcing plants in various countries, including in the US, and not following through. Note this article in the Washington Post about the plant in Pennsylvania that was announced int 2013 to great hoopla) that has still not been built.

Locals were giddy. Foxconn had a small office here, but this seemed like the start of an entire new industry. Pennsylvania’s governor boasted about the deal. The Brookings Institution think tank hailed Foxconn’s decision as a sign of U.S. manufacturing’s strength.

But the factory was never built. The jobs never came. “It just seemed to fade to black” after the announcement, recalled a local official. It was the start of a mystery, created by a chief executive known to promise projects all over the world that never quite pan out. Yet few people seem to notice. Foxconn and others continue to get credit for deals that never take place. In December, Pennsylvania’s economic development staff was still touting the $30 million factory that never was.

Talk Is All Health Care at the Art Fair

Kathleen Vinehout

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

“My father-in-law is losing his health insurance,” Pam told me. She stopped to chat as we perused the booths at the Stockholm Art Fair.

Stockholm, population 66, has one of the best art fairs in western Wisconsin. Judging by the license plates, the fair is high on the list for Minnesotans too.

Got Budget? No - and this is not a good thing

So, we're now a couple weeks and counting past when the state budget in Wiscosnin is due. At least we've managed to avoid a complete state shutdown, unlike a number of other states in the past month. But cruising along on past allotments isn't an answer. Once again we are seeing that although the current state administration is capable of winning votes, and keeping total control over the government, one thing they are genuinely terrible at is governing. 

Seeking Solutions for State Road Budget

Kathleen Vinehout

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

A tall man stopped me in the hall of the Capitol. “Can’t you just increase the gas tax?” he asked me. “I’m here to ask my Republican Senator to increase the gas tax. We need to fix the roads.”

He smiled. Then said, “Hi, my name is Steve. I’m a Republican. I just don’t think it’s conservative to keep borrowing to maintain the roads. We’ve got to pay for what we spend.”

Steve was earnest in his desire to find a solution to the road budget. I’ve heard similar concerns from folks attending my recent town hall meetings.

Proposal Helps Veterans Become Farmers

Kathleen Vinehout

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

“As far back as WWI connecting soldiers with nature and farming has been used to treat the invisible wounds of war,” Mr. Brian Sales recently told members of the Senate Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism Committee.

 

“Back then it was called shell shock. Today it’s called PTSD. No matter what it’s called, its effects are the same and what was true then is true now. Veterans need help and help is what I am here to talk about.”

 

In a bipartisan effort to bring more veterans into agriculture, Senators Testin, Ringhand, Representatives Goyke and Brooks introduced legislation called the Wisconsin Veterans Farm Bill of 2017. The bill calls for several state agencies to work together assisting veterans in both urban and rural communities. The proposal seeks to provide education, technical assistance, employment, and mentorship including connecting existing farmers with veterans who want to learn farming. Over forty percent of the legislature supports the bill as cosponsors, including myself.

 

A U.S. Army Infantry and combat veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Kosovo, Mr. Sales captivated Senators with his story of how farming brought his life purpose.

We ask why Democrats are not winning. Gerrymandering is a large part of it.

Okay, llet's be honest. Gerryymandering is an American tradition. Whatever party is in power has always tried to gain the upper hand by organizing congressional districts to suit their needs. Packing and cracking of districts has happened for a very long time, and it helps to keep the winning party in power over the long term.

But something has changed. The ability to use computer power to set district boundaries (and the will to use them for that purpose) has resulted in districts in Wisconsin that make it next to impossible for party power to change in the local district. We see it time after time.  Good challenging candidates just lose because surmounting the party bias in their own home area is impossible.

Celebrating Wisconsin’s Dairyland

Kathleen Vinehout

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

“Do you still milk?” I asked Jim at a recent gathering. “No,” he told me. “My son tells me the most help I can be is to stay out of the way,” he joked. We both agreed that was hard. Dairying gets in your blood.

 

June is dairy month. A time to celebrate all we love about ‘America’s Dairyland’ – home to 1.28 million dairy cows, which is more than one cow for every five Wisconsinites.

 

Reminiscing with an old dairy farmer, you realize the love of cows and farming never really goes away. The smell of newly mowed hay or the glistening dew on the field of newly emerging corn brings back tangible memories. While the body is worn and weary, the mind still remembers the satisfaction of a job well done when every cow is milked and fed, the barn is clean and limed, and all the other farm animals are ready to settle in for the night.

What Choices Would You Make?

Kathleen Vinehout

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

In the next few weeks, state lawmakers are voting on how Wisconsin spends money over the next two years. The choices legislators make will affect our communities and our lives.

 

Lawmakers are working off a spending plan submitted by the Governor earlier this year. Changes have already been made to his proposal.

 

For example, the budget writing committee removed much of the new money for the University of Wisconsin System. Big spending cuts in the last budget forced, among other things, a reorganization of UW-Extension, which may leave local communities without their own Ag or 4-H agents.

 

This year, the Governor’s budget returned about one-sixth of that cut and ties the increase to new “performance” standards. However, majority party lawmakers cut that increase roughly in half and disapproved a small decrease in tuition.

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