June 13, 2018
Owners and employees from about two dozen companies that received corporate welfare from the state in 2017 have contributed more than $800,000 to Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign.
These companies were among the 59 businesses that were awarded nearly $3 billion in economic development tax credits and loans last year by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. The giveaways were made so the companies would either locate or expand their operations in the state. Most of the recipients, 50 of 59 (or 85 percent), were businesses already located in Wisconsin.
Owners and employees of 25 companies, which contributed about $809,000 to Walker’s campaign between January 2009 and December 2017, received about $66 million in tax credits or cheap loans. The top contributors and the giveaway the companies received were:
Generac Power Systems, of Waukesha, about $231,000 in contributions. Most of these contributions, $220,000, were made by the company’s founders, Robert and Patricia Kern. The company received a $10 million tax break.
Masters Gallery Foods, of Oostburg. Together with its parent, Sargento, the companies contributed $146,850. Masters Gallery received a $2.5 million tax break.
Johnsonville Sausage, of Sheboygan Falls, about $128,700 in contributions. The company received a $10 million tax break.
Fisher Barton Blades, of Watertown. The company’s parent, Fisher Barton Group, contributed $97,350. Fisher Barton Blades received a $180,000 tax break.
Kwik Trip, of La Crosse, about $91,200 in contributions. Most of these contributions, about $60,400, were made by Kwik Trip owners Don and LaVonne Zietlow. The company received a $21 million tax break.
The top recipient of economic development tax credits and loans in 2017 was Foxconn, which received nearly $2.9 billion to build a $10 billion liquid crystal display manufacturing plant in Racine County. State fiscal estimates say the Foxconn project will likely end up costing taxpayers about $4.5 billion in state tax breaks, grants, worker training, highway improvements, and other giveaways. Walker’s campaign did not receive a contribution from Foxconn executives as of the end of 2017.