The Washington State Senate approved two bills Saturday that are part of a deal to convince Boeing to build its new 777X airplane in the state.
Senate Bill 5952 extends tax breaks worth nearly $9 billion to Boeing through 2040.
“It’s good for the state’s coffers,” said Sen. Andy Hill, the lead Republican budget writer in the Senate. The tax breaks are expected to generate more than $20 billion in tax revenue for the state, he said. “That’s a big deal,” Hill said. “And that’s doing it without raising taxes.”
Hill said it will also create 56,000 aerospace jobs, “guaranteeing jobs for kids that are in middle school now.”
Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle, was the only Senator to speak out against the measure during the floor debate, saying the bill moved too quickly through the process. “We haven’t fully thought out the use of that $9 billion and what it could go toward,” he said.
Hasegawa also said that the deal to convince Boeing to stay in Washington was being “balanced on the backs of machinists.”
Many members of the International Association of Machinists are reportedly angry about Boeing’s labor proposal, which would raise health insurance costs and replace their pension plan with a 401(k)-style retirement plan. Union members will vote on the contract by Wednesday.
Hasegawa said it was “unconscionable” for the Legislature to ask Boeing works to “vote to cut their future.”
The tax incentives bill passed with a vote of 42-2. Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, voted against the measure along with Hasegawa.
The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 5953, which creates 1,000 new training slots in aerospace programs at community and technical colleges. The bill uses $8 million in general fund money to increase enrollment in the aerospace programs, which currently enroll 8,500 students.
The House is expected to take up the measures on Saturday, the third day of special session. TVW will carry all proceedings live.
UPDATE 3 P.M.: The House of Representatives approved the Senate’s version of the tax incentive bill following two hours of debate with a vote of 75 to 11.
The House also approved its own version of the aerospace training bill, 77 to 9. It moved swiftly over to the Senate, which approved it unanimously.
With both bills passed, the legislation now heads to the governor to sign.
UPDATE 3:50 P.M.: The Washington State Legislature adjourned Sine Dine, ending the third special session of the year.
UPDATE: 4:30 P.M.: Gov. Jay Inslee held a press conference, saying that the Legislature is “fulfilling its end of the bargain” to keep Boeing production in Washington state.
The deal is also contingent on approval of the labor contract by the Boeing machinists union.
Inslee said the workers must make “individual decisions, private votes” on the contract. “I can’t think of a better thing for a person’s family than to win a job for 20 years,” he said.
The Legislature adjourned without taking action on a transportation package that would fund major road projects.
Inslee said there are ongoing bipartisan meetings about transportation. If leaders can come to an agreement by Nov. 21 — when lawmakers will be back in Olympia for committee days — Inslee said he would consider calling another special session to approve the package. “I think the cause demands it,” he said.