NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Lawmakers returned to Nashville for a special session Monday, they’re considering a much bigger incentives package than originally announced for Ford Motor Company to build a plant at the West Tennessee megasite.
The bill currently under consideration has ballooned to nearly $900 million after the governor and leaders sold it as a $500 million investment. Ford is hoping to secure a deal this week to invest $5.6 billion to make electric pick-up trucks in West Tennessee.
“This is a huge deal for West Tennessee this is going to be transformational for a lot of families,” said Rep. Vincent Dixie (D-Nashville).
Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) is expecting higher than announced job numbers. “It looks like it’s not just the 5 or 6 thousand jobs, they’re talking about down there it could be statewide 20 something thousand jobs.”
Ford’s Blue Oval City is receiving bipartisan support, but members say the deal must be done right.
“It’s a lot of money and so we want to make sure that it’s all being done properly and the return on investment is going to be as it should be,” said Crowe.
Governor Bill Lee chose not to speak publicly ahead of the special session even as calls grow for him to be more transparent with taxpayer dollars.
“One of the things that we have not been able to do thus far is really sit down with Ford, the governor, the Senate, and the House of both parties because this affects everyone,” said Dixie.
With $500 million in incentives for Ford and the SK innovation battery makers, the state will use an additional $138 million through the Department of Economic and Community Development to build infrastructure.
Another $40 million will go toward a new training college and $200 more million will be used through TDOT for road projects. There’s also $5 million for consultations and legal service. The price tag as of now is $883 million dollars.
“All this stuff cost money and it was not articulated on the front end but it’s the backend move to try to get this deal passed through,” said Dixie.
Sen. Crowe said now is the time for discussion. “We want to see what the breakdown is in the three divisions and whether or not the investments are a good one and to make sure that they keep their deal.”
Lawmakers are hoping to establish a board to oversee the megasite.