The $8.7 billion tax incentive package meant to glue Boeing’s 777X manufacturing to Washington state has cleared its first legislative hurdle. The House Finance Committee approved House Bill 2089 on a 10-to-3 vote Friday morning, and it moves to a hearing in the afternoon before the House Appropriations panel.
The Washington state Senate is hearing similar bills in the afternoon and both chambers are expected to take up both the tax measure and a work-force training bill for aerospace on Saturday. But nothing is certain as of mid-morning.
The three dissenting votes in Finance came from Republican Reps. Brandon Vick of Felida and Cary Condotta of East Wenatchee and Democratic Rep. Chris Reykdal of Tumwater. Condotta has complained the process is too fast and not transparent enough.
Reykdal said it was “hard to stomach” giving tax breaks to Boeing without also finding a way for the company to help pay for workforce training investments it has said it needs to retain jobs with its 777X jet in the state.
Despite a late Thursday rebellion by Machinists District 751 members, whose contract ratification with Boeing is considered key to keeping the 777X assembly work in Washington, Rep. Reuven Carlyle said lawmakers need to keep moving forward on the tax package that is considered essential to preserve and grow jobs for the Northwest economy.
Carlyle chairs Finance and said language was added to firm up the accountability of the bill, which requires that Boeing would need to keep all of its 777X assembly work in Washington to continue receiving the tax breaks.
HB 2089 calls for extending favorable business-tax rates for aerospace for 16 years beyond the 2024 expiration date set in a major tax bill approved in 2003. Boeing later moved a second production line for its 787 jet to South Carolina, despite the tax break package, which has left some lawmakers eager to close loopholes in the new bill.
Gov. Jay Inslee testified on the tax bill Thursday in committee. He was making the rounds, talking to lawmakers Friday morning.