Gov. Inslee calls special session to begin Thursday to pass Boeing package

By | November 5, 2013 | Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee is calling the Legislature into special session on Thursday to pass several bills that he says will guarantee that Boeing builds its newest airplane, the 777X, in Washington state.

Inslee wants legislators to approve a $10 billion dollar transportation package that will fund major road projects over the next 10 years. He’s also calling for a extension of all commercial airplane tax incentives until 2040, as well as a tax exemption on the construction of buildings used for manufacturing airplanes.

The tax incentives are worth about $8 billion to Boeing over the next three decades.

“Boeing has assured me that if the union approves the contract and the Legislature approves the package, the 777X and its composite wing will be built in state of Washington,” Inslee said at a press conference Tuesday, surrounded by several legislators and Boeing CEO Ray Conner.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers will vote on Boeing’s proposal next week. The union represents more than 35,000 Boeing workers.

“In exchange for the 777X guarantee, Boeing proposes a new eight-year labor agreement that will expire in September 2024,” the union said in a press release.

The labor agreement would establish a new company-funded retirement plan, ending pension accruals for current employees. All members would get a $10,000 signing bonus.

Inslee said the deal could bring more then 50,000 jobs to the region. Boeing would build the 777X wide-body jet and the plane’s carbon fiber composite wings in the Puget Sound.

Inslee is asking legislators to complete the work in one week.

House Speaker Frank Chopp said he believes the Legislature can pass a transportation package quickly. “We’ve already passed a transportation package last session working in good faith,” Chopp said.

The House, which is controlled by Democrats, approved a $10 billion dollar transportation funding package last session that would have raised gas taxes by 10.5 cents. The package never got a vote in the Senate, which is controlled by a coalition of 23 Republicans and two Democrats.

Legislative leaders at the press conference didn’t say if there’s an agreement on gas taxes.

Senate Majority Coalition Leader Rodney Tom said “we’re still working through” details of the transportation package, adding that there may need to be a “second phase.”

In addition to a transportation package and tax breaks, the Legislature will be asked to vote on bills that will increase enrollment in college aerospace programs, streamline the permitting process and develop new fish consumption standards.

The governor’s office has more details about the package of bills here.

Watch the press conference below:

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