March 8, 2018
A GOP bill that would sharply increase state handouts to entice Kimberly-Clark to keep operating two Fox Valley paper plants has the backing of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC).
The measure, Senate Bill 859, was introduced last month after the company announced it would cut up to 5,000 jobs company wide, including 600 workers at its Neenah and Fox Crossing plants. The Assembly version of the bill was approved on a near party line vote by the Republican-controlled Assembly last month. And on Wednesday, a Senate committee approved it. The full Senate is expected to take up the proposal later this month before it adjourns its floor session for the year.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker has urged the legislature to pass the bill. The proposal is modeled after the $3-billion-plus state aid package approved last fall to lure Foxconn to build a massive flat-screen manufacturing facility in southeastern Wisconsin.
A key component of the Kimberly-Clark bill would increase tax credits available to the company for job retention from 7 percent to 17 percent on annual salaries less than $100,000 a year. The bill’s job credits component alone is estimated to cost $100 million to $115 million over 15 years.
The company has yet to say whether it would reconsider its decision to close the plants.
Kimberly-Clark executives and other employees contributed $14,645 to legislative and statewide candidates between January 2010 and June 2017, including $5,340 to Walker. Nearly $2 of every $3 in campaign contributions from Kimberly Clark employees went to Republicans – about $9,200 versus about $5,450 – to Democrats.
WMC is the state’s largest business organization and the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce & Industry, which also supports the bill, is a WMC member.