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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

June 13, 2013 at 10:49 AM

Rep. Rick Larsen heading to Paris Air Show in Inslee’s place

Paris bound: Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett.

Paris bound: Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett.

UPDATED at 11:30 a.m. with information on South Carolina delegation, and at 2:20 with estimates on trip costs.

WASHINGTON — The state budget stalemate in Olympia has forced Gov. Jay Inslee to cancel his upcoming trip the Paris Air show, where he was to lead a group of  four dozen private executives and public officials on an aviation trade mission.

Inslee on Thursday said he will send U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen of Everett in his stead. Larsen is the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s subcommittee on aviation. On Wednesday, Larsen presided over a hearing on the certification process that approved Boeing’s faulty lithium-ion battery design for the 787 Dreamliner.

The biennial Paris Air Show, in Le Bourget north of Paris, is one of two premier international aviation shows. The other is the Farnborough Air Show outside of London. Larsen will attend the Paris show from Sunday to Friday.

Larsen’s expenses will be covered by the state. Most of the people going on the trip are corporate executives paying their way. The governor’s office did not immediately provide cost breakdown for public officials, including Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy.

In a statement, Larsen said he was eager to step in for Inslee to help preserve the state’s aviation industry.

“Washington is the aerospace capital of the world, and next week we are going to work hard to keep it that way,” Larsen said.

The current state budget expires June 30. The government would shut down unless Democrats and Republicans forge a spending plan for the next fiscal year.

The public tab for the Paris trip is about $250,000, according to an estimate from the Department of Commerce.

Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith said the state is paying for eight 10 people, at about $6,000 a head. Much of the rest of the costs are for marketing materials, pavilion space rentals and other expenses.

Meanwhile, South Carolina officials said Thursday Gov. Nikki Haley will skip Paris. South Carolina Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt said he and Haley will not join the state’s 16-member delegation to the air show because their presence won’t be essential.

The state is home to Boeing’s 787 assembly plant in North Charleston, which is expanding with $120 million in state incentives.

“The nature of these meetings is not meet-and-greets,” Hitt said, according to the Associated Press. “They’re more working meetings” held between principals involved in actual business negotiations.

Comments | More in Governor, Politics Northwest | Topics: Boeing, Jay Inslee, Rick Larsen

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