The Washington Legislature is plowing ahead with a package of tax breaks and incentives to convince the Boeing Company to build its next big jet in Washington.
But this is happening against a backdrop of new doubts about Boeing’s willingness to commit given labor turmoil.
In quick succession, the state House Committee on Finance and the Senate Committee on Ways and Means are reviewing and passing a multibillion dollar tax break for Boeing. It’s an extension through the year 2040 of preferential treatment the aerospace industry already receives.
Republican state Rep. Cary Condotta objects to the haste.
“After 11 years of hard work, we’ve made very little progress for small businesses,” he says. “But in 24 hours, Boeing can snap their fingers and get a concession. I have some problems with that.”
When it came time to vote though, Condotta was in the minority compared to the prevailing view voiced by lawmakers such as Democrat Larry Springer.
“The cost of this tax exemption is more than paid for by the economic activity that the 777 will generate,” he says.
The governor and legislature are trying to deliver a package of incentives before the Boeing Machinists union votes on a contract extension which includes givebacks. However, that vote next Wednesday is now unexpectedly contentious.
At midday Friday, both Democratic Governor Jay Inslee and Republican leaders of the state Senate were reporting “progress” towards agreement on a big highway spending boost.
Inslee reiterated his belief that a transportation package is needed to keep future Boeing jetliner production in the state.
“We are all on the same plane here. We are all on the same Boeing plane and we need to land it so that we can get to work wherever we work in the state of Washington.”
But neither Inslee nor Republican Senator Joe Fain would give any details on where the parties are coming closer together. Congestion relief would likely require an increase in the state gas tax.