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Walker Wants Lawmakers To Return To Vote On Kimberly-Clark

Paper Maker Has Asked Legislature To Vote By End Of The Month

kimberly clark
Lisa Poole/AP Photo

Gov. Scott Walker wants the Legislature to return this month to consider a $100 million tax incentives bill to keep a Kimberly-Clark plant open in the Fox Valley.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Thursday that Walker told reporters in Milwaukee that he’s trying to get the necessary 17 votes to approve the proposal that’s stalled because there’s not enough Republican support.

The Assembly passed the bill in February but it stalled in the Senate. Republican leaders have said they don’t have the votes to pass it as is.

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Walker said the bill would need Democratic backers to pass and he’s urging senators to tour the facility. He said there’s a myth that the facility is a paper mill.

“It’s not,” he told reporters while touring a Metro Market grocery store in Milwaukee. “What we’re talking about is really a whole emerging area of Kimberly-Clark’s business. It’s really about consumer projects. Things like Depends and other things that, for good or for bad, are a growing part of the marketplace out there and they really have state of the art equipment.”

Kimberly-Clark is expected to decide on what to do with its Wisconsin facilities by the end of the month and it’s unclear whether the incentives bill will have the necessary votes by then.

In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, called on Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, to gauge support for the bill in her caucus.

Shilling has pushed back, pinning blame on Fitzgerald and Sen. Roger Roth, R-Appleton. Her office said there’s no deal to get a plan through the Senate before Kimberly-Clark’s deadline.

“Senators Fitzgerald and Roth seem to have forgotten that they are still in the majority and are trying to pass the blame because of their inability to get this done,” said Shilling in a statement.

Kimberly-Clark said it will keep one of its plants open if the Legislature approves the incentive package. The paper maker has asked the Legislature to vote on the bill by the end of the month.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 2:50 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, with original reporting from WPR staff.