Kimberly-Clark officials have asked for a vote by month’s end on a Foxconn-like incentive package aimed at keeping one of the company’s two Fox Valley plants open.
After Kimberly-Clark announced in January plans to shut down two Wisconsin plants, GOP lawmakers announced a package that 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.
With two Republican Senators opposed to the package, all remaining Republicans and at least one Democratic senator would have to support it for it to pass.
Those concerned about the package have said a big subsidy to land an entire industry is one thing, but this is to keep jobs. What’s more, some add, with unemployment at near historic lows, those who might lose their jobs at Kimberly-Clark would likely have little trouble finding work elsewhere. And there’s concern about setting a precedent for other Wisconsin companies that hit tough times and then expect similar help. Additionally, some are having a hard time justifying such generous tax credits to a company that turned a profit of more than $3 billion last year.
To others, however, it’s not just about Kimberly-Clark, but the suppliers around the state that would be impacted. And while Kimberly-Clark workers might be able to find jobs elsewhere, they’d also be losing years of seniority and benefits they’ve built up. But even as Walker continues to pressure lawmakers — including a new letter to senators today — some see little chance the Senate comes back by the Sept. 30 deadline.
Do you support Foxconn-like incentives for Kimberly-Clark?