Special session opens with talk of tax break extension

This year’s third special session is under way.

Up first this afternoon is a hearing in the House Finance Committee on a bill to extend tax breaks for the Boeing Co. and the aerospace industry by 16 years, from 2024 to 2040.

The extension is contingent on a “significant commercial airplane manufacturing program” getting sited in the state by June 30, 2017. Translated that means Boeing must begin work on its 777X program somewhere in Washington or lose out on the tax break that could save the firm an estimated $8.7 billion.

Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, lauded the extension in a statement issued today.

“Passage of this legislation will help provide a stable tax platform for the aerospace industry in our state,” he said. “It’s a logical extension of existing law that will assure we maintain and grow this important driver to our economy.”

Meanwhile, lawmakers are starting to return for the extra session with first votes coming as early as Saturday.

How long the session will last is unclear.

Many lawmakers figure they can pass bills to extend the tax breaks, spend $18.5 million on education and worker training and help communities like Everett speed up permitting of Boeing facilities.

That $10 billion transportation package sought by Gov. Jay Inslee is the stickler. House and Senate Democrats are on board and so too are Boeing, the Machinists union – which sent a letter to lawmakers on the subject today – and seemingly every city, county, transit district and business organization.

But the Republican-controlled majority in the Senate says it’s not a linchpin to Boeing landing its project here and can be handled later.

Today’s hearing is at 1:30 p.m. and will be shown live online by TVW.

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