State Sen. Chris Larson
Op Ed

Say No to Kimberly-Clark Subsidy

They’re awash in profits from federal tax cuts and worker givebacks. Now they want more from state taxpayers?

By - Jul 26th, 2018 04:35 pm


Like many of our Wisconsin neighbors, I was extremely dismayed earlier this year when I heard Kimberly-Clark announce unnecessary layoffs and manufacturing plant closures after posting a staggering $3.3 billion in operating profit at the end of 2017. These two facts, laid side by side, make it clear to all of us that the job losses and plant closures in the Fox Valley are a strategic decision made by a profitable company and not due to external forces or loss of market share. This was intentional. Before the ink was even dry on dividend checks to shareholders, Kimberly-Clark was planning to cut these jobs.

Now, after securing federal tax breaks from The Trump Administration, which slashed their effective tax rate from 35.7% in 2016 down to 19.2% in 2017, and securing concessions from The United Steelworkers Union here in Wisconsin, Kimberly-Clark is attempting to extort over $100 million dollars in tax incentives from Wisconsin by holding our neighbors’ manufacturing jobs hostage. It is my hope that Kimberly-Clark will rethink this strategy, think of the gains they have already been handed by taxpayers, and come to the right decision on their own. That is what we should expect from a company steeped in Wisconsin culture: to not cut jobs when profitable, to not shutter manufacturing plants after extracting concessions from workers, and to not extort further millions from Wisconsin taxpayers.

What we are seeing here is the Foxconn chickens coming home to roost. When Governor Walker, and legislative Republicans showed their willingness to spend unprecedented billions of taxpayer dollars on the bad Foxconn deal, they opened the door for any other corporation to demand the same, unprecedented giveaway of public cash and resources. What Kimberly-Clark knows, and is attempting to exploit, is that our Governor and the Republican controlled legislature are willing to spend whatever it takes to appear like they have an economic development strategy. They don’t. This isn’t a plan, this is a payoff.

Wisconsin needs a real plan for job security for the next decade and beyond. We can’t afford to trip from crisis to crisis, putting out economic fires as they pop up. We need to invest heavily in K-12 education and our university system so we have the educated work force that modern industry is looking for. The fact is, Governor Walker has delivered the largest cuts to public education in our history, cuts he never fully restored. Yet here we are spending mountains of public money on corporate ransom payments. Wisconsin needs to work on incentives that will encourage our young people to stay in Wisconsin after graduation and entice the kind of businesses they want to work for. Instead, all we get are wasted dollars on lazy add campaigns in Chicago and a proposed giveaway to a company that remains profitable through the second quarter of 2018.

Wisconsin needs infrastructure investment so our roads aren’t crumbling and an embarrassment to our state. Our roads consistently rank near the very bottom in the United States and the worst in the Midwest. How can Wisconsin be expected to attract new businesses, with an eye towards the future, when their car gets a flat from a pothole on their way into the state? We cannot continue on this path that Governor Walker and Legislative Republicans have set us on where we give out billions for corporations while our students and our infrastructure continue to fall further and further behind.

We need businesses that represent Wisconsin’s future, not ones trying to cut it short.

Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson represents Wisconsin’s 7th Senate District – which includes Cudahy, Oak Creek, St. Francis, South Milwaukee, Milwaukee, and Franklin and is the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Committee on Education.

Categories: Business, Politics

12 thoughts on “Op Ed: Say No to Kimberly-Clark Subsidy”

  1. tosa compadre says:

    Exactly. No more subsidies for companies that simply employee people. We need more Trolleys!

    Let’s look to Seattle as an example of strategic and vsionary planning:

  2. Troll says:

    Good to see Chris Larson is anti union. You go Chris, screw the working man.

  3. Tommy says:

    Troll and Tosa,
    Given that you are so called “conservatives” I wonder how you feel about giving $100 million to a company that made over $3 billion in profits.

  4. Jimbo says:

    Chris Larson: anti-business, anti-common sense. Should be doing more, not less, to support businesses throughout the state. Foxconn looks like a good deal for Wisconsin, but time will tell. As for roads, I drive extensively throughout the Midwest. Our roads are not better and no worse than elsewhere. Everyone everywhere in the nation wants better roads and highways, but it’s expensive. Unfortunately, we prefer to waste dollars on trolleys and roundabouts.

  5. PMD says:

    Someone should tell Jimbo that Republicans are in complete control of state government and have done nothing about fixing roads other than punt repeatedly on the issue.

  6. David says:

    Even though it goes against the union grain, the core essence of this article and it’s author is spot on. The state and it’s taxpayers are being held hostage to the whims and demands of an unruly corporate membership within the state. Does this indicate to the rest of the corporations within the state, that they to can obtain partial payment for employee’s pay and benefits, from said state? I believe so. In the end how many new state (unofficial) employees will the state gain at the end of this saga/ill thought out strategy, and would they earn state retirement for the percentage of their pay coming from the state? Lastly, where along this timeline are the taxpayers voices to be heard? I would believe that they would have a constitutional right to have a say/vote in the application of new taxes, even if the state just plays a new version of the old “find the pea and shell” game, with taxpayers money.

  7. Jimbo says:

    PMD: I don’t care for either political party or politics for that matter. Just want to see the business grow in Wisconsin. As for roads, I see plenty of orange barrels and construction projects on our roads and bridges every day. Don’t see much difference in this administration from previous ones.

  8. PMD says:

    You can be pro-business and against the Foxconn deal.

  9. Lynn says:

    Totally on point, Chris Larsen. The corporate greed is rampant and abhorrent. Makes me sick.

  10. David says:

    Mike Hsu total 2017 yearly compensation 5.5 million.
    Tom Faulk total 2017 yearly compensation 13.5 million.

  11. Troll says:

    I wish Larson stood up to public greed. When a school tax referendum ends in your local community. The school board files again so you don’t see that drop in property taxes. I hope the students like their new big screen tvs.

  12. andsoitogoes says:

    Consumers and workers say NO to paying the costs of doing business for corporations and other businesses. Would they like to pay my bills?

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