Legislature to hold public hearing on Kimberly-Clark tax bill Wednesday

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FOX CROSSING, Wis. (WBAY)- The Legislature will hold a public hearing on the Kimberly-Clark tax incentives bill next Wednesday, Nov. 14. with the Joint Finance Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says if there is bipartisan support for the incentives package, the Senate will come into session during the last week of November to vote on it.

Action 2 News spoke with State Sen. Roger Roth Thursday as he caucused with lawmakers in Madison.

The Appleton Republican, just re-elected Senate President, told us about the process going forward.

"Once we have that hearing then we're going to continue to have conversations. I know the union and the corporation, Kimberly-Clark, are working, just educating members on both sides of the aisle, bringing them up, doing tours," Roth said. "We're going to be doing those sorts of things over the next few weeks and my goal is to get his into a position where we've got enough support to make it pass here by the end of the month."

It remains unclear if the bill has the necessary votes.

"I have had indication from a couple of members and look forward to continuing to work with them. I do think that now that we're outside the pressures of the election when we sit down and look at this just through the optics of economic policy and development, I think members across the political spectrum are going to recognize that this is the right thing to do for Northeast Wisconsin and our entire state," Roth says.

Gov. Scott Walker, unseated by Democrat Tony Evers in the midterm election, will have the final say before leaving office.

"Regardless of what happened in the election, I know the governor and everyone was committed to doing this because we felt it was in the right interest of Wisconsin and I don't think anything has changed on that," Roth said.

Dem. State Sen. Dave Hansen, who opposes bailing out Kimberly-Clark, says he is prepared to listen to the debate and then make a decision on how he will vote.

Statement from Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay):

“Kimberly-Clark doesn’t need the taxpayers to bail them out. They are a corporation worth billions that had profits of nearly a billion dollars last year. They used the tax break they got from President Trump to close mills and fire 5,000 workers.

And now they are asking for $115 million or more that if given to them will not be available to help fund our schools, provide health care to those who need it or fix our roads.

And if passed, this bill will open the door for more corporations to come to the Legislature with their hands out expecting the same type of deal that they and Foxconn got.

That being said if the bill makes it to the floor I’ll listen to the debate and decide from there, but I don’t think this bill is fiscally responsible and I haven’t seen a case made for why they need Wisconsin’s hard working families to bail them out.”

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ORIGINAL REPORT:

With the election over, questions are now being raised over whether the state Senate will still take up legislation next week to provide a Foxconn like incentives package for Kimberly-Clark.

Action 2 News reported earlier this year the company said it would close it's Neenah nonwovens facility but delay a decision on it's Cold Spring plant in Fox Crossing to give the state more time to pass a tax incentives package worth $100 million.

The two plants combined employ about 600 workers.

Even with a new governor preparing to take office-- out-going governor Scott Walker still has work to do, which includes the possibly of signing legislation that would keep Kimberly Clark in the Fox Valley.

Neenah Mayor Dean Kaufert said, "I suppose someone could say they would leave this for the new governor to make this decision, but he has made commitment, we have made commitment, that there would be an answer shortly after the election."

On October 2nd--- Senator Roger Roth released a statement announcing that an extraordinary session would take place beginning Monday, November 12th.

Efforts to reach Senator Roth Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Action 2 News also reached out to Senator Dave Hansen, a Green Bay Democrat.

A spokesman for his office told Action 2 News-- Republicans will discuss the issue in caucus Thursday, and that officially the session hasn't been scheduled.

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson says that's concerning.

"I haven't heard about a vote count, I haven't heard if there are legislators that have changed their minds. They're a lot of questions and I think we need those answered soon," said Nelson.

Kaufert added,"A decision needs to be made, this is highly unusual but there were some promises made so I fully hope and expect them to follow thru on them, and I know the governor is going to want to see this done, and done before he leaves office."

Republicans have already acknowledged that the passage of this bill will require bi-partisan support.