MADISON, Wis. — Roger Roth, who as a member of the state senate majority party holds the position of Senate President, has been questioned for his failure to deliver votes for legislation advertised as helping major Fox Valley employer Kimberly-Clark. But with his other votes Roth came through for the owners of the Milwaukee Bucks and for the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn — supporting massive public tax subsidies for a new arena and construction of a factory in Southeastern Wisconsin.
“Roger Roth has voted to send billions of state tax dollars to Southeastern Wisconsin to help billionaire ballclub owners and a foreign corporation,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “When it comes to the Fox Valley workers and the local economy Roger Roth can’t get the job done.”
Despite serving in the leadership of the Senate, under the control of his fellow Republicans, Roth was unable to pass legislation he authored to give a public tax subsidy, estimated to be in the $100 million range, to Kimberly-Clark. The corporation, which has paid $1 in net state tax since 2013, has said they need the additional tax subsidies to continue operations at one of the two plants in the Fox Valley that they have slated to close.
Roth also failed to help advance an alternative legislative proposal to the Kimberly-Clark subsidy to help the paper industry as a whole in Wisconsin, not just one company, by setting aside funds to help papermakers upgrade equipment to meet market demands and to improve energy efficiency at their plants.
While Roth has dropped the ball for local workers, he was happy to pick it up and run with it for the billionaire owners of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team. In July 2015, Roth cast his vote for a $250 million public tax subsidy to help build new arena in Milwaukee for the Bucks.
He followed up that vote in 2017 by supporting the largest state subsidy to a foreign corporation in history. Thanks to Roth, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn could reap up to $4.5 billion in state and local tax dollars to boost their bottom line and build a factory in Racine County in far Southeastern Wisconsin.
The Foxconn deal includes refundable tax credits that mean the state would literally be writing a check to the corporation, using state tax dollars to subsidize their bottom line instead of being able to use those funds for local schools, roads or to help Main Street businesses in communities across the state.
In addition to not getting it done for local workers, Ross noted Roth is misleading voters as he tries to win re-election. While touting himself as an “independent voice” in his campaign tv ads a review of Roth’s voting records show he voted the party line 98.9 percent of the time in the 2017 session, siding with the Senate Republican leader Scott Fitzgerald on 277 of 280 roll call votes. His record was the same in both the 2015-16 and 2013-14 sessions, voting with his party leader 99.6 percent and 97.6 percent of the time respectively.