Foxconn benefits going to Illinois?

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Hard to miss the likelihood that Wisconsin may pay while Illinois reaps benefits.

THERE IS A SUBTEXT to the planned Foxconn development in Wisconsin, with its possible 13,000 jobs, and that's this question: Where will those job seekers come from?

The state currently is experiencing very low unemployment percentages, and that's a good thing. People who want to work have jobs.

But it also means potential employees with skills are scarce, especially those possessing high-tech savvy and good educations. Likewise, business studies have identified a shortage of skilled workers as one of the biggest challenges facing Wisconsin in the coming years.

SO, CONSIDER TWO FACTORS related to that documented Wisconsin workforce situation.

First, Foxconn chose to locate at a site between Racine and Kenosha in Wisconsin's far southeast corner.

Second, Wisconsin state government just announced it is launching a multi-million dollar ad blitz covering the Chicago area urging millennial professionals to abandon the big city and move north. The ad campaign highlights Wisconsin's short commutes, pristine lakes and quality of life.

The conclusion is fairly obvious. Foxconn expects to draw workers - needs to draw workers - from the people-packed Chicago metropolitan area. And state officials hope to entice as many workers as possible to actually move here so Wisconsin gets the benefits.

OTHERWISE, OF COURSE, Illinois workers commuting to Foxconn will pay their income taxes, their property taxes, their sales taxes, their fuel taxes and more to Illinois, not Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin taxpayers will be paying the tab for the extensive incentives given to Foxconn so the company would build here. State and local incentives are well over $3 billion, a package officials acknowledge - even under the best circumstances - taxpayers won't break even on for at least 25 years.

Is it all worth it? That particular riverboat gamble mostly is unknowable at this point.

This much, though, is clear: Every job filled by an Illinoisan instead of a Badger will be bad news for those picking up the tab for billions in tax incentives.

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