Mike Browne, Deputy Director
MADISON, Wis. — According to media reports, alarm bells were being raised about paper industry job losses by a local official in the Fox Valley last year. But Gov. Scott Walker waited until nearly a week after an announcement 600 jobs would be lost and mere minutes before a Democratic press conference, to declare, via Twitter, he would consider doing something.
“The only Wisconsin job Scott Walker cares about saving is his own,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “The fact is he has sat idly by while hundreds of jobs were being lost.”
As reported in the Capital Times, Outagamie County Executive Thomas Nelson wrote to Walker in October 2017 to raise concerns about the struggles of the paper industry in the Fox Valley. He followed up with additional correspondence in November 2017 and again in February 2018.
In late January Kimberly-Clark announced that they would be shedding 600 jobs in the Fox Valley, after taking their massive windfall from the Donald Trump-Paul Ryan tax giveaway to boost shareholders’ and executives’ bottom lines.
But the first signs Walker was even considering taking some action would not come for nearly another week. Mere minutes before Northeastern Wisconsin Democrats and local officials were to announce a comprehensive plan to try to help the paper industry and save Wisconsin jobs, Walker announced, via Twitter, he was directing his scandal plagued Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to discuss the proposed mass job losses.
Walker’s last minute attempt to save face, suggesting a “Foxconn style” giveaway to just one large corporation, ignores the previous losses of nearly 1,000 other Fox Valley paper industry jobs, and the long-term structural challenges faced by the entire industry.
Ross concluded, “You only need to look at the last eight years, during which Wisconsin has lagged most of the nation and the Midwest in jobs, to understand that Scott Walker covering his political backside doesn’t add up to a successful economic development strategy.”