Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Foxconn bill signing in Racine County recalls more ironies

Blocking regional transit coordination, a Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter rail line and Amtrak service from Madison into Racine County were among the obvious ironies enveloping Walker's signing the Foxconn subsidy deal Monday in that very same Racine County, as I'd pointed out.

Here's another:

George Petak was the Racine County State Senator whose vote in favor of a five-county (Racine included) increase of one-tenth of one-cent on the sales tax sealed a public subsidy win for building Miller Park, but taxpayer outrage of Petak's betrayal of Republicanomics led to a successful recall campaign against Petak that cost him his job in 1995.

George Petak 
Yet these days, Wisconsin GOP leaders from the Governor on down, including Republican Assembly Speaker and Racine County politico Robin Vos, just committed Wisconsin taxpayers to $3 billion over decades in public subsidies for Foxconn, a private business, and, separately, the risk of tax hikes at the local level:
The Journal Sentinel reported last month that the sheer size of the Foxconn development could challenge locals officials seeking to provide the necessary infrastructure and services without raising property taxes on existing homeowners. 
The Racine Journal Times put it this way
Because of property tax caps imposed by Gov. Scott Walker and the Legislature, while the Foxconn plant is being built in whichever community it lands, that community’s town board, village board or city council might decide to increase property taxes. Which would make a certain amount of sense, since there will be a steep increase in power, water and sewer use in that community because of the gigantic new neighbor.
The new construction the Foxconn plant brings will bring about a substantial rise in new taxing authority in that community.
And there isn't a local official around who doesn't understand that rosy talk of a housing boom kicked off by the deal would also bring with it demands for schools, police patrols, fire protection and other routine residential services that taxpayers would have to cover.

In other words, these deals aren't for free, especially when they include massive sprawl development which taxpayers subsidize on the front end and then with a multitude of services going forward.

If there's a Petak principle or precedent in politics, Racine County officials and other Foxconn supporters might keep it mind.

Reminds me of the headline on a Craig Gilbert piece in the Journal Sentinel during the recall battles in 2012:
Recall politics is old hat in Racine, where no incumbent is safe.
By the way, after leaving the State Senate, Petak went to work for the state housing and development agency - - WHEDA - - under GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson, and, of late, is back at WHEDA after a varied career in and out of Wisconsin which more recently included a stint at Walker's Department of Financial Institutions, according to his Linkedin profile.

Credit Republicans for taking of business, and their own.

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