Walker wants lawmakers to return to vote on Kimberly-Clark

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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - Governor Scott Walker is calling on state senators to return to Madison before the end of this month to pass an incentives package to keep at least one of it's two Kimberly-Clark Fox Valley plants open.

In January the company said it would close its Neenah nonwovens plant within 18 months and is in the process of determining a timeframe for the closure of the Cold Spring plant in Fox Crossing.

Both facilities employ about 600 workers.

It's part of the company's global restructuring plan that includes cutting more than 5,000 jobs or 12-13 percent of its workforce.

In response, the state Assembly passed a bill in February offering Kimberly Clark an incentives package worth $100 million, but the bill has since stalled in the Senate.

This week Kimberly Clark set a deadline of September 30 to decide the fate of its Fox Valley operations.

Now Gov. Walker is calling on state senators to take immediate action.

"It's consumer goods. It's a growing part of the industry. We want very much for them to be in the state of Wisconsin," said Walker during a stop in Milwaukee Thursday.
Walker also said he's working to find the necessary 17 votes needed to pass the K-C incentives package.

However, doing so would likely require bipartisan support. Whether that's possible is unclear.

In a statement, Democratic Senator Caleb Frostman of Sturgeon Bay responded, "Only after any potential bill related to Kimberly-Clark has been vetted by the public and any issues or new ideas offered by workers and other experts have been addressed could I begin to consider giving it my support."

Action 2 News also reached out to Democratic Senator Dave Hansen, who declined to comment.

Calls and emails to Republican senators Roger Roth and Robert Cowles were not returned.

"They need to start looking at the big picture. Stop worrying about the political ramifications of, 'Oh my gosh, am I going get elected or not elected?' and they need to figure out a way how to get the votes to get this passed," said Neenah Mayor Dean Kaufert.

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson added, "This should have been taken care of months ago, and I think somewhere along the line we kind of forgot what this is all about, and that is the fate and the fortune of potentially hundreds of workers right here in the Fox Valley."

Gov. Walker wants the Senate to call an extraordinary session to take up this bill, but even that requires a majority vote of the Senate Organization Committee.