Boeing gets tax breaks; Machinists' vote next

by: Deborah Horne Updated:


OLYMPIA, Wash. - The two bills giving Boeing what it wanted sailed through the state Senate. But they hit some turbulent headwinds in the House.

"Mr. speaker," thundered Rep. Jason Overstreet, a Republican from Lynden. "This insults the common sense, the intelligence of the people of the State of Washington."

Angry over what they called a "manufactured emergency," a handful of Republicans rose in opposition to giving Boeing the billions in tax breaks the company says it needs to build the next generation 777X airplanes here. GOP Rep. Liz Pike of Camas called the unusual special session 'bewildering."

"It's bewildering because it's supposed to be a big emergency for the Legislature," said Pike. "And I've got news for ya'll. Boeing has been leaving the state of Washington for about 10 years or longer."

Other Republicans argued for tax breaks across the board.

"If lower taxes and less government is good for one business in Washington," said Rep. Matt Shea of Spokane. "It should be good for all businesses."

But an architect of the bills, House Finance Chairman Reuven Carlyle, a Democrat from Seattle, urged his colleagues to vote yes.

"I believe this is responsible fiscal government because the return on investment is unquestioned," Carlyle said.

A wide, bipartisan majority agreed. Afterwards, a jubilant Gov. Jay Inslee -- keenly aware that Boeing machinists are balking at the deal -- delivered this message.

"What I can tell machinists is that we have a state that is poised for decades of success in aerospace if in fact we create the conditions for this next great Boeing airplane," said Inslee.

Now the spotlight shifts to the machinists. They are scheduled to vote next Wednesday on whether they agree that what is good for Boeing is good for them, too.