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Wash. Legislature Plows Ahead with Boeing 777X Tax Breaks

Ashley Gross
Boeing's 777 assembly line in Everett, Wash.

The state Legislature is plowing ahead with a package of tax breaks and incentives to convince the Boeing Company to build its next big jet in Washington. But this is happening against a backdrop of new doubts about Boeing's willingness to commit given labor turmoil.

In quick succession, state House and Senate committees are reviewing and passing a multibillion-dollar tax break for Boeing. It's an extension through the year 2040 of preferential treatment the aerospace industry already receives. Republican state Rep. Cary Condotta objects to the haste.

"After 11 years of hard work, we've made very little progress for small businesses. But in 24 hours, Boeing can snap their fingers and get a concession. I have some problems with that,” said Condotta.

When it came time to vote, however, Condotta was in the minority compared to the prevailing view voiced by lawmakers such as Democrat Larry Springer.

"The cost of this tax exemption is more than paid for by the economic activity that the 777 will generate,” Springer said.

The governor and the Legislature are trying to deliver a package of incentives before the Boeing Machinists union votes on a contract extension which includes givebacks. However, that vote next Wednesday is now unexpectedly contentious and up in the air.

777X remains in Washington state.

The House Finance Committee passed the measure on a 10-3 vote Friday morning, and the bill now heads to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration late Friday afternoon.

The extended tax breaks are valued at about $9 billion, according to state estimates.

Gov. Jay Inslee called lawmakers back to Olympia this week for a special session dedicated to the Boeing proposals. Inslee also has called for a $10 billion transportation revenue package to pass as part of the overall plan, but Senate leadership has indicated that it wants to take that up at a later time.


Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.