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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, June 16, 2024

In final session of the year, Assembly hurries to OK policy priorities

In the final hour of the chamber session Friday, the state Assembly heard a flurry of proposals in order to move forward as many legislative priorities as possible.

With no plans to reconvene for the rest of the year, lawmakers approved a series of major policies, including Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed child tax credit and tax incentives for paper-product producer Kimberly-Clark.

Proposed by the governor at this year’s State of the State speech, the new tax rebate would provide $100 annually to Wisconsin families for each child living at home. After clearing the Assembly, the provision must still be approved by the Senate, a vote Walker said he looks forward to in the next month.

"Our reforms and our growing economy have led to a stronger than expected budget surplus, and we want to return it to the people who made it possible: the hardworking taxpayers of Wisconsin," Walker said in a statement. "We are getting positive things done for the people of Wisconsin."

Despite emulating a more generous version of the policy championed by Democrats in recent years, nearly all Republicans supported the measure and nearly all Democrats voted in opposition, dismissing the proposal as an election year giveaway.

Lawmakers also scrambled to offer paper-product giant Kimberly-Clark a series of tax incentives to keep their Fox Valley facilities open after they announced a plan to significantly downsize.

Following the Foxconn model, Walker also proposed granting state subsidies to sway the business to stay in the area. Kimberly-Clark executives have yet to indicate if any state efforts would pay off in the form of retained jobs.

“We must ensure that the company continues to have a robust presence in our area as well as preserve its skilled workforce," said Senate President Roger Roth, R-Appleton. “We will continue to fight for these 600 jobs and the families they support.”

Both the Assembly’s child tax rebate and Kimberly-Clark incentives still require Senate approval. Only scheduled to meet one day next month, the higher chamber would have to either approve the measures as they exist or force the Assembly to reconvene to consider new amendments.

In the last 12 hours of the session, the Assembly also passed bills barring local governments from raising their minimum wage, as well as reforms strengthening penalties for both drunk driving and the provision of firearms to individuals barred from ownership.

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