I started composing this last night…but now…as I am writing it here on Blogging Blue…the news is reporting that Governor Scott Walker is signing the various bills from the lame duck legislative session that will limit the powers of future Wisconsin governors and attorneys general. But lets get back to my original thoughts.
So lets start with Kimberly-Clark! I have lost track of how many times the Republicans in Madison and the governor in particular have wrung their hands over the proposed closing of a number of Kimberly-Clark plants in Wisconsin. Earlier the state assembly had passed a bill granting KC financial incentives to keep plants open that reportedly could reach $70 million. But Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald never brought it to a vote in his chamber because he said he didn’t have the votes to pass it. huh?
KC claimed they needed the incentives to remain in Wisconsin and they needed the bill passed sometime last fall or they were gone. It is December 14th 2018 and they are still here.
And of course the extraordinary session that the governor called after the November mid-term elections was intended to resolve the Kimberly-Clark incentive package. Instead the GOP leadership in both houses passed the lame duck power grabs taking power away from the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general.
So yesterday Governor Scott Walker announced a state incentive of $28 million in tax breaks or in this case credits if KC will keep some plants open, maintain a level of employment in the state and buy goods and services from other Wisconsin companies. Less than half the original bill that the GOP couldn’t pass…so how much blackmail was involved in KC’s original threats? Keep in mind that they are a profitable international company with ties to a Republican member of the US House of Representatives.
But here’s where it starts to get interesting…where the irony hits the road…and the governor pushes the hypocrisy transmission into overdrive. Because of the amount involved and the timing of the incentive, the governor could put together this package and present it to Kimberly-Clark and didn’t need to get permission from the state legislature. Since KC essentially pays no corporate income taxes in Wisconsin, most of us will be giving $28 million to a profitable corporation. And our elected officials (other than the governor) have had no input! And the governor proceeded with it despite the fact his party’s majority in the Senate couldn’t pass the original legislation.
So here’s the kicker. Governor Walker announced this tax incentive yesterday, December 13, 2018. He needed to do that because this afternoon, Friday December 14, 2018, he signed the lame duck power grab legislation (apparently without any of the anticipated line item vetoes) which removes the governor’s ability to negotiate the exact type of programs he had just handed Kimberly-Clark. Timing is everything!
So not only has the GOP done everything it can to negate the will of the people in the November elections, but the governor just negated the will of the people (or the will of the people as espoused the by the GOP electeds in Madison…feel free to put gerrymander in that sentence if you want to) by sneaking through an exercise of power that future governors will no longer have.
So: Governor Walker gave away taxpayer money (money we don’t have…and money he won’t ever have to justify in a future budget) which the next governor won’t be able to undo because of the new law…and money that the legislature probably won’t call back since they can get the advantages without taking the blame even though some of them didn’t support the original proposal. What a stinking pile…