Walker says Kimberly-Clark package needs bipartisan backing to pass Senate

Gov. Scott Walker says an incentive package that could help keep open one of Kimberly-Clark’s plants in the Fox Valley could only pass the Senate if it receives bipartisan support.

Walker took to Twitter last night to tout an effort to “save plenty of good-paying jobs.” That followed a WisPolitics.com report yesterday morning showing the company wants the Legislature to sign off on the bill by the end of the month.

“The only plan that can pass the Senate before 9/30 is the bill that passed the Assembly, and the only way to pass it is with votes from both parties,” he wrote in a Tweet.

The package has been hung up in the state Senate with critics expressing concerns at both the price tag and the precedent such a package would set to companies considering layoffs.

A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling said Walker hasn’t spoken to the La Crosse Dem in months. And Shilling in a statement knocked Senate President Roger Roth, who’s pushing the package and whose Appleton-area district includes the plant.

“As the Senate President, Sen. Roth has the power to make change yet we’re seeing little activity from his office as he fails to rally votes in his own caucus,” Shilling said.

Walker and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, met with Kimberly-Clark officials on Friday to “discuss pending legislation and tour the facility,” per a Walker spokeswoman.

A Fitzgerald previously said the senator had told the company its Sept. 30 deadline would be hard to meet because of challenges bringing back his caucus for a vote at this time.

After Kimberly-Clark announced in January plans to shut down two Wisconsin plants, GOP lawmakers announced a package with Foxconn-like incentives to keep the facilities open. It would boost tax credits for job retention to 17 percent, up from the current 7 percent. Kimberly-Clark would also get refundable tax credits for 15 percent of capital expenditures, up from the typical 10 percent, over a five-year period. The company would also get a five-year sales tax exemption on those expenditures.

The Assembly signed off on the bill in February. Kimberly-Clark has since announced it reached a deal with the United Steelworkers that, paired with the state incentives, would keep one plant open.

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