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Kimberly-Clark to get ‘Foxconn terms’ under bill from Roth and Steineke

State Sen. Roger Roth says Kimberly-Clark would get "Foxconn terms" to keep 600 jobs that paper manufacturer now plans to eliminate. under legislation he's working on that could send up to $10 million in state assistance to the company.

The Appleton Republican laid out parameters of the bill he's working on after Gov. Scott Walker yesterday called for legislation that would increase state credits in an effort to keep open two company plants in Neenah.

Walker followed his tweet with a statement that he would work with lawmakers to increase the tax credits available for job retention to 17 percent from the current 7 percent. That incentive would match what Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn is receiving as part of a package that helped lure the company to Racine County.

A Kimberly-Clark spokesperson said the company did not ask for an incentive package from the state, but otherwise did not address whether the offer would impact its decision on the Neenah plants.

"As provided in the company's statement last week, any final decisions will be announced by the company after appropriate consultation and/or negotiations with the union and other labor stakeholders," the spokesperson said.

Roth said the bill he's working on with Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, would target jobs paying between $30,000 and $100,000. He was not sure how many of the 600 jobs slated for elimination would be impacted. But he estimated the cost to the state in the range of $3 million to $10 million.

He also defended only targeting Kimberly-Clark for the higher credits, saying the company revolutionized the paper industry a century ago and could do so again. He likened its impact on the state to the potential of the Foxconn development.

"It's pivotal to the paper industry here in the Fox Valley, absolutely vital, that we retain the presence of Kimberly-Clark here and the 600 families that these jobs support," Roth said.

Walker said his administration has been working with Kimberly-Clark since the company announced it was reducing operations in the U.S.

"Retaining outstanding Wisconsin companies like Kimberly-Clark is just as important as attracting new companies to our state, which is why I'm proposing we offer larger tax credits to ensure the company keeps those 600 jobs where they belong -- in Wisconsin," Walker said.

Some have also been pushing the Walker administration to take action to encourage the company that bought Appleton Coated to keep the company's mill operations in the Fox Valley. Walker also said his administration has been having ongoing discussions with Industrial Assets, which now owns Appleton Coated. But his statement did not offer details about possible assistance.

Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers said the episode underscored his administration’s failure to adequately work with the company before last month's announcement the plants would close as part of a global restructuring.

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, said the plan sets up the state to have other companies push for similar assistance to keep jobs in Wisconsin. He suggested the proposal was a last-minute attempt that seemed to come out of nowhere.

"I don't know if it was something jotted down on napkins or a piece of letter head reacting," Hintz said. "But we're getting a laundry list of last-minute should've, would've, could've toward the end of session," Hintz said.

See the Walker release: http://www.wispolitics.com/2018/gov-walker-calls-for-increasing-tax-incentives-for-kimberly-clark/


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