Republicans are having trouble finding the votes in the Wisconsin Senate to pass a bailout of the Kimberly-Clark plants Fox Crossing, WI and Neenah, WI, and they’re asking for help from the Democrats.
If you’re wondering about the “spirit of bipartisanship,” “reaching across the aisle” and “uniting the state,” Senate Minority Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) isn’t interested in any of that. In a statement reported by the Capital Times Jessie Opoien on Twitter, Shilling said the GOP is just going to have to find the votes themselves.
“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,” Shilling said.
Republicans currently have a 18-15 majority. Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) has already come out against the bailout plan, saying it would set a bad precedent.
The Assembly passed a bill earlier this year that would give Kimberly-Clark an incentive package that could cost state taxpayers $117 million over 15 years. At stake, in an election year, is 600 jobs in the Neenah area.
However, Kapenga is right. As a number of prominent conservative organizations in Wisconsin have pointed out, the bailout of a paper mill company like Kimberly-Clark, a legacy industry with an uncertain future, will just lead to more hands being stretched out to the taxpayers whenever an employer is in trouble. Why this company and not another one?
For example, where was the state bailout when the Golden Guernsey Dairy plant in Waukesha shut down, partly as a result of government tampering with the milk market? Were those 100 workers less worthy than the workers in the Fox Valley, a swing political area?
What about the next plant closing, and how much will that cost?
Republicans can’t find the votes for this bailout, and that’s actually a good thing. Wisconsin has a strong economy with record low unemployment. Companies need workers, and yet Wisconsin’s taxpayers are being asked to rescue a dying industry. Rather than drag out this drama any further into the political season, it’s time for Republicans to just let it go.