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

November 9, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Legislature approves billions in tax breaks for Boeing

Update| 3:12 p.m.

OLYMPIA — It’s a wrap. The Legislature on Saturday afternoon approved extending tax incentives worth more than $8 billion for Boeing until 2040.

Along with the tax package, lawmakers voted to spend millions of dollars on worker-training programs and an effort to ease permitting for large aerospace-manufacturing sites.

The bills now go to Gov. Jay Inslee.

Lawmakers will adjourn Saturday afternoon without taking up a transportation package, another issue Boeing had wanted to be handled quickly.

Original post:

OLYMPIA — The state Senate moved first on Saturday, passing aerospace tax incentives and a measure aimed at boosting training for the aerospace industry.

“This is a generational opportunity,” said Senate Ways and Means Chairman Andy Hill, R-Redmond. “This is about our aerospace economy.”

The training measure, SB 5953, passed unanimously and the tax-incentive bill, SB 5952, was approved 42-2.

Democratic Sens. Bob Hasegawa, of Renton, and Adam Kline, of Seattle voted no. Hasegawa was the only senator to raise significant objections during the floor debate.

“I have a philosophical issue with putting this economic development strategy on the backs of the Machinists,” he said. “We’re asking them to sacrifice the future of the next generation of Boeing workers. That is not a sustainable  economic development strategy for the state.”

Boeing wants the Machinists union to accept a new eight-year contract with big cuts in future pension and health-care benefits to secure the 777X for Washington state. That union approval could prove troublesome, given the early reviews of the Boeing proposal.

In addition, the company wants the Legislature to boost training for aerospace workers and approve tax incentives worth more than $8 billion.

The company has also stressed that it wants lawmakers to approve a multi-billion dollar transportation package.

Inslee called the special session, which started Thursday, to fulfill the state’s side of the bargain.

There’s companion legislation to the Senate bills in the state House. Legislative leaders said they hope to have final passage of both measures by early afternoon.

The aerospace-training bill, among other things, would spend $8 million to increase high-demand aerospace enrollments by the equivalent of 1,000 additional full-time students for the 2014-15 academic year.

“It is the intent of the Legislature that this funding be ongoing or until there is no longer a demonstrated need,” according to a bill report.

The tax-incentives measure extends commercial-airplane tax breaks — due to expire in 2024 — until 2040 and expands a sales-and-use tax exemption for construction of buildings used to manufacture airplanes.

Legislative leaders in both chambers said there’s no prospect of an agreement on a transportation package Saturday, however it wasn’t immediately clear if the Legislature plans to adjourn Saturday or remain in session while transportation negotiators work to reach agreement.

Comments | More in Politics Northwest, State Legislature | Topics: Boeing, Macihinists, tax breaks


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