Kimberly-Clark, Unions, Push for Subsidy
State Senate lacks votes to approve $70 million subsidy for 400 jobs.
Representatives from Kimberly-Clark Corp., unions and local officials urged state lawmakers Wednesday to approve a roughly $70 million tax incentives package for the company before the end of the year.
The “Foxconn-style” incentives package is aimed at preserving about 400 jobs at its Cold Spring facility in Fox Crossing near Neenah. The company announced plans to close that and another nearby facility in January. One facility will close, but the Cold Spring plant could remain open, pending a deal with the state.
“This could be a defining moment,” Dean Kaufert, mayor of Neenah, told the state budget committee. “Don’t turn your backs on these jobs.”
Under the deal, the consumer products giant would receive tax credits of 17 percent on employee wages and 15 percent on capital expenditures. The company would also be exempt from the state sales tax on capital expenditures for five years. The Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office originally estimated the deal would cost up to $109.5 million over 15 years. With only one plant remaining open, that estimate declines to roughly $70 million, according to the office’s formula. The money would be paid out directly from the state, as the company has no income tax liability under state law.
“This is a work family, this is a community, and these are people trying to make a difference in their lives with family supporting jobs,” said David Breckheimer, president of the area United Steelworkers Union.
The facility employs about 388 people. Kimberly-Clark said it plans to add 52 new jobs if the deal is approved and invest about $110 million in facility improvements over the next three years.
To remain eligible for the deal, the company would have to retain at least 93 percent of its employees at the Fox Crossing facility and statewide. It has a number of other facilities scattered through Wisconsin, employing roughly 3,000 people.
Gov. Scott Walker proposed the state incentives package in February. It passed the state Assembly later that month, but never received a vote in the state Senate because it didn’t have the necessary support.
The plan needs 17 votes to pass the Senate.
In his testimony, Roth defended the plan against pushback, some of which has focused on the deal’s similarly to the state’s $4.5 billion deal with Foxconn. Opponents argue approving a Foxconn-style package could set a bad precedent for the state.
“This is not Foxconn,” Roth argued. “This is different because (Foxconn) was a foreign business, built on the potential of what could be, these are very tangible (jobs), they are here right now in our state.”
Roth and other supporters also pointed out that the plant’s supply chain supports about 230 businesses throughout Wisconsin.
The GOP senator said he hoped the bill could pass with bipartisan support.
However, Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, said Democrats haven’t been included in conversations about the bill.
“You say you want Democrats at the table, we don’t even know where the table is,” Erpenbach said.
Opponents to the proposal also argue it is too expensive and too risky for Wisconsin taxpayers.
“I am not convinced that this is the right thing for the state to do,” said Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon.
While a number of Kimberly-Clark employees testified before the committee in favor of the measure, Karmen Jones, who has been employed at the Cold Spring facility for 37 years, testified against it. She said she believes the deal is an example of “corporate greed,” and doesn’t want lawmakers to support that, even if that leads to her losing her longtime job.
“It’s corporate blackmail,” Jones said of the incentives package. “Either you do this, or we’ll leave the state, either you do this or you won’t have a job.”
Jones said she and other Kimberly-Clark employees could easily find employment elsewhere in the state, if the plant closes.
“Right now, there are good paying jobs out there,” she said. “Thank God.”
Gov.-elect Tony Evers indicated he would be open to negotiations on the plan earlier this year, but said Wednesday he doesn’t have enough details to have a position now.
“I’m monitoring it. And we have to make sure that we’re in the right place,” Evers told reporters after an event in Coloma, Wisconsin. “But I have not seen the copy of the bill that they’re going to be talking about, so I’m not going to take any position on the bill at this time.”
State Sen. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said if enough support is gathered in the state Senate for the plan, a vote will likely be held in the Senate later this month.
Listen to the WPR report here.
Kimberly-Clark Corp. Workers, Local Officials Urge Lawmakers To Approve State Incentives was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
More about the Kimberly-Clark Plant Closings
- Op Ed: Growing Wealth Gap Hurts Wage Earners - Tamarine Cornelius - Jan 20th, 2019
- This Isn’t an Economic Development Strategy, This is an Extortion. - State Sen. Chris Larson - Dec 14th, 2018
- Kimberly-Clark to Keep Cold Spring Facility Open in Wisconsin - Gov. Scott Walker - Dec 13th, 2018
- Governor-elect Tony Evers Statement on Kimberly-Clark Announcement - Gov. Tony Evers - Dec 13th, 2018
- Kimberly-Clark Subsidy Stalled in Senate - Laurel White - Nov 28th, 2018
- Kimberly-Clark, Unions, Push for Subsidy - Laurel White - Nov 15th, 2018
- AFP-Wisconsin to Legislators: Reject Corporate Welfare - AFP Wisconsin - Nov 14th, 2018
- MacIver Institute Reminds Wisconsin Why Kimberly-Clark Bailout Is a Bad Idea - MacIver Institute - Nov 14th, 2018
- GOP Pushes Tax Giveaway Plan That Pays More for Fewer Jobs - One Wisconsin Now - Nov 14th, 2018
- Republican Opposition to Kimberly-Clark Bill Intensifies - Democratic Party of Wisconsin - Oct 4th, 2018
- Senator Craig Statement on Kimberly–Clark Legislation - State Sen. David Craig - Oct 3rd, 2018
- Scott Walker, GOP Seek Lame Duck Session to Send $100 Million to Corporation That’s Had $1 in Net State Tax Since 2013 - One Wisconsin Now - Oct 2nd, 2018
- Governor Walker Releases Statement on Kimberly-Clark - Gov. Scott Walker - Oct 2nd, 2018
- Desperate Walker Wants to Hand Out More Election Year Corporate Welfare - One Wisconsin Now - Oct 1st, 2018
- The State of Politics: Kimberly-Clark Won’t Get Tax Break - Steven Walters - Sep 17th, 2018
- One Wisconsin Now Statements on Scott Walker Latest Corporate Welfare Scheme - One Wisconsin Now - Sep 14th, 2018
- Campaign Cash: WMC Pushes For Kimberly-Clark Subsidy - Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Sep 13th, 2018
- Kimberly-Clark Employees Remind Us Why Bailout Is A Bad Idea - MacIver Institute - Aug 30th, 2018
- Wisconsin Budget: Walker Rewards Kimberly-Clark For Layoffs? - Jon Peacock - Aug 2nd, 2018
- Op Ed: Say No to Kimberly-Clark Subsidy - State Sen. Chris Larson - Jul 26th, 2018
- Kimberly-Clark Will Consider State Subsidy - Brady Carlson - Jul 25th, 2018
- Governor Walker Releases Statement on Kimberly-Clark, United Steelworkers Agreement - Gov. Scott Walker - Jul 24th, 2018
- Governor Walker, State Officials Push to Keep Kimberly-Clark Jobs in the Fox Valley - Gov. Scott Walker - Feb 15th, 2018
- Wisconsin Budget: The Lesson of Kimberly-Clark Layoffs - Jon Peacock - Feb 12th, 2018
- Campaign Cash: Kimberly-Clark Donated to Walker, Legislators - Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Feb 7th, 2018
- Governor Walker Calls for Increasing Tax Incentives for Kimberly-Clark - Gov. Scott Walker - Feb 5th, 2018