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Kimberly Clark Incentives

The Kimberly-Clark Corporation plant in Fox Crossing is shown on July 30.

MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker is continuing to press the state Senate to pass legislation that would allow Kimberly-Clark to stay in the state.

Kimberly-Clark has announced its intent to close two paper mill facilities in central Wisconsin, which could mean hundreds of people could be out of a job.

Last session the state Assembly passed a tax incentive package aimed at keeping the Kimberly-Clark facilities open.

Walker issued a statement on Tuesday saying “Legislative leaders are calling an extraordinary session of the state Legislature on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, to allow the Senate to take up Assembly Bill 963.”

“Kimberly-Clark officials, union leaders, local leaders, Sen. (Scott) Fitzgerald, Sen. (Peter) Roth, and I have been working together to keep hundreds of good-paying, family-supporting jobs in Wisconsin. This is a major step forward in achieving our goal,” Walker said. “My message to Kimberly-Clark employees is simple: We are fighting for you. We are working together to keep your jobs in Wisconsin.”

Walker had earlier sent a letter to senators asking them to go back into session and pass legislation by Sept. 30, but nothing happened.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said he supports Senate leadership in calling a extraordinary session.

Wanggaard, Wirch unsure of proposal

Whether the governor has the votes is a major question.

State Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, said he has not looked over any proposed legislation regarding Kimberly-Clark, but added this issue is about retaining jobs and that maybe the state should look at the entire paper industry instead of one company.

“I would really like to see us grow the jobs, I would hate to lose the jobs,” Wanggaard said. “I think when you’re looking at the paper industry and you’re looking at some of the changes that are affecting the paper industry, I’d like to see us do something that really promotes positives for the paper industry so everybody has that ability, so you’re not just focusing on one spot.”

Wanggaard said the legislation may have to go through the committee process before it’s ready for a final vote.

“I don’t know exactly what (Kimberly-Clark’s) issues were that brought them to where they are at,” Wanggaard said. “All of that stuff has got to be vetted.”

Wanggaard said he is going to “see what happens” as the deadline gets closer.

“If there’s something we can do to help them stay here, we should look at that, definitely, but we got to be flexible, too,” Wanggaard said.

State Sen. Bob Wirch, D-Somers, who represents part of Racine County, has said he supports low-cost loans over tax incentives and still thinks that is the best route for action.

Wirch also pointed out that Walker is asking legislators to act on the bill after the Nov. 6 general election, which could mean “lame duck legislators (those not seeking re-election or who may have been defeated on Nov. 6) are voting on this issue.”

“I think its strange that they’re bringing this up after the election,” Wirch said. “I have to find out a lot more about what is being presented to us.”

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Ricardo Torres covers federal, state and Racine County politics along with the Village of Mount Pleasant. He bleeds Wisconsin sports teams.

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