The Politics Blog

Lawmakers in Olympia: question is for how long – and what role transportation plays

OlympianNovember 7, 2013 

State legislative leaders began teeing up a two-bill package in Olympia today [Thursday] that is aimed at keeping the Boeing Co.’s manufacture of a new 777X jet in Washington as well as a new wing assembly plant for the state. But with a transportation tax package also up in the air amid negotiations, it’s not clear how long the session will go.

Senate Republican Floor Leader Joe Fain of Auburn said early in the day that the Senate plan is to vote on the two tax and workforce training bills on Saturday and then go home. Democrats in the House haven’t stated a schedule preference, but House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, said this week the House could vote on the two major bills Saturday.

Gov. Jay Inslee is encouraging the lawmakers to keep working next week on a transportation plan. And Boeing sent Inslee another letter today that says transportation is among the “elements needed” to keep the jet maker competitive. 

“We are talking with legislators from both houses and both parties and hope that everyone will work to find agreement on transportation by mid-week next week,” Inslee spokesman David Postman said in an email. “If that can’t happen, we’ll discuss next steps. But the governor wants lawmakers to make that effort.”

The first move is in the House Finance Committee at 1:30 p.m. where Inslee is expected to testify this afternoon. The hearing is on House Bill 2089, which provides a 16-year extension of aerospace industry tax breaks to 2040. 

The taxpayer value is $8.7 billion, but a new analysis by the Department of Revenue and Inslee’s Office of Financial Management says the deal would be worth $21.3 billion in state tax receipts over the 16-year period.

HB 2089 requires that Boeing manufacture its new 777X jet in Washington state and also agree to locate a new carbon-fiber wing-assembly plant here. Unlike the tax breaks approved in 2003 as part of landing much of Boeing’s 787 manufacturing, the new deal says the company must maintain all of the assembly work in Washington or lose the tax break. 

Rep. Reuven Carlyle, the Seattle Democrat who chairs the Finance Committee and co-sponsored the tax bill, says it is written to avoid a mistake made by the Legislature’s 2003 tax incentive package for Boeing. That earlier agreement let the company later move some of its 787 jet manufacturing to South Carolina and still receive tax breaks on work done in Washington.

“Every single effort is being made unequivocally to make it clear that ‘all means all,’ ” Carlyle said, referring to the 777X final assembly work and a carbon-fiber wing-assembly plant.

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