It’s been over a month since the Wisconsin legislature passed the state’s budget, but Assembly Speaker Robin Vos stands by his criticism of the way last-minute negotiations went down.
After the Assembly passed the budget, three Republican state senators, Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, and Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, said they would not vote to approve the budget without a guarantee that Walker would veto certain parts of it.
“For the individual rogue senators to say, ‘I’ve been involved in this process the entire time, but I’m going to put my foot down and I’m not going to vote for it unless I get that,’ that is wrong,” Vos said on the Sunday talk show “UpFront with Mike Gousha.” “Frankly, I wish Governor Walker wouldn’t have negotiated with terrorists.”
“Terrorists? You're calling rogue senators terrorists?” said Host Mike Gousha.
“Yeah, that’s what they are. Because you don’t hold somebody hostage for your own personal needs,” Vos said. “You negotiate, you give and you take.”
While Vos’ comments on the show were openly critical of the actions of Walker and the Republican senators in the budget process, he was just as enthusiastically complimentary of Walker’s role in the Foxconn deal. He gave assurances that the deal is on track.
Vos’ displeasure with Walker’s budget negotiations is not a surprise. The Associated Press reported in late September that Vos had sent several text messages to Walker about the budget, which said “Very disappointed in the way I’ve been treated … not even the courtesy of a phone call before you took out things that were were important to me,” and “I won’t forget this.”
On Sunday’s show, Vos reiterated that there has been a budget process in place for over 50 years, where legislators work with the Joint Finance Committee to make “a deal as they go.”
Vos said the “backroom deals” with the three senators were outside that established process, and the budget may not have passed if legislators had known that some parts of the budget would be vetoed.
“That process is not going to happen again if I have anything to say about it,” Vos said.
Vos said he met with Walker after he sent the texts, and said at this point, the issue was “old news” to him.
“That’s what friends do, you have disagreements, you talk about it, and you do it in a way that’s respectful,” Vos said.
Vos also addressed the Foxconn deal, which would bring the Taiwanese LCD manufacturer to Wisconsin with a factory that could provide up to 13,000 jobs.
The Foxconn deal was supposed to be wrapped up by Sept. 30, Gousha said, but the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) postponed the vote on the company’s contract last week. Also last week, President Trump talked about Foxconn in what seemed like less-than-certain terms.
“I think it's going to be in the state of Wisconsin. And, hopefully, it's going to be there,” Trump said.
Vos said that the project was “right on track.” He denied that there were any issues with the contract, but said that after talking to people involved in the negotiations, it was a matter of simply making sure “we all have a very clear understanding” of the contract.
“For all the people who have been critical of the Foxconn deal, I would think that they would say, ‘Geez, do your due diligence make sure the deal is right for everybody,’” Vos said.
He pointed to previous Foxconn milestones: the legislature has passed an incentive package for the deal, Racine County was selected as the location for the factory, and local government established a Tax Increment Finance district for the project.
Asked about Trump’s comments, Vos said it was a case of not wanting to “count chickens before they hatch.”
“My hope is this is going to be one of those times when President Trump is under-promising so we can overdeliver,” Vos said.
“President Trump is in Washington, doing all the work for the presidency, Gov. Walker is here, he’s the guy that’s on the ground, along with WEDC staff … I am ultimately confident that this is going to come to fruition.”