Aerospace executives urged to fight for more help

OLYMPIA — Leading Democratic and Republican lawmakers assured aerospace executives Wednesday they want to help one of the state’s strongest industries get even stronger.

They said efforts to enlarge training programs, expand enrollment in college engineering and computer science courses and reform workers compensation, as desired by the industry, are all on the table for action in the final weeks of the legislative session.

But with a budget shortfall, and political differences between the House and Senate, they may not all get done unless the aerospace leaders inject themselves aggressively into the debate, lawmakers cautioned.

“I’m here to give you a reality check,” Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, told a gathering of the Aerospace Futures Alliance, which lobbies on behalf of the industry. “I really need you guys to fight for aerospace like you do every day but you’ll have to be a little more forceful, you’ll have to be a little louder.”

Washington state is home to more than 650 aerospace companies, including the Boeing Co., Aviation Technical Services of Everett and ElectroImpact of Mukilteo. The industry employs approximately 97,800 people in Washington.

Lawmakers and Gov. Jay Inslee paraded before 75 members of the alliance which is made up of representatives from aerospace companies, government and education.

“What I saw for aerospace is the commitment that they have made to the aerospace industry is significant and will allow us to move forward in a real positive way,” said Linda Lanham, executive director of the alliance.

Hobbs and two Republican senators, Janea Holmquist Newbry of Moses Lake and Mark Schoesler of Ritzville, warned revisions in the workers compensation program passed by the Senate are in danger because of political differences with the Democrat-controlled House.

House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, said significant changes made to the program in the last two years need time to take root first.

He focused on the House desire to invest in building a new aerospace training center in Renton and beefing up a program to provide low-interest loans to students of the Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center at Paine Field.

And he endorsed a sales tax break for owners of large private planes — which Inslee and several Senate Republicans, including Holmquist Newbry are backing.

“It is not necessarily guaranteed to happen” Chopp said, urging aerospace executives to help convince wary lawmakers of how it will add approximately 2,000 jobs.

Inslee said he wants the state to do a better job encouraging and preparing students for careers in aerospace and high-tech jobs.

He called on industry leaders to assist in pushing a transportation package through the Legislature this year, saying the failure to make major improvements on state highways soon could cost the state aerospace jobs in the future.

“I need some help. We have a total failure of willingness to be a partner right now down here in Olympia,” he said. “We need to get some people to come to the table to work in a bipartisan fashion to try to come up with a transportation package.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com

Talk to us

More in Local News

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee speaks with special ed Pre-K teacher Michelle Ling in her classroom at Phantom Lake Elementary School in Bellevue, Wash. Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times via AP, Pool)
Governor: Educators are now eligible for coronavirus vaccine

“This should give educators more confidence,” Jay Inslee said. Other frontline workers could soon be next.

A view of the courtyard leading to the main entrance of the new Stanwood High building on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2020 in Stanwood, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Law gives Washington high school seniors leeway to graduate

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that can waive some requirements for students who were on track before the pandemic.

About a dozen metal dinosaurs sit in the front yard of a home owned by Burt Mason and Mary Saltwick on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 in Freeland, Washington. The couple are used to finding strangers in their yard and taking photos. Every year on their trip to Tucson, Burt and Mary bring home another figure  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Dinos on Whidbey? This Freeland yard is a Jurassic Park

These creatures from long ago won’t chomp or chase you, and you’re welcome to visit.

Maryville Getchell High School students Madison Dawson, left, Kaden Vongsa and Jenasis Lee, who made a presentation to their school board discussing mental health, lack of resources and personal stories of their peers mental health struggles. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Students plead for better mental health support from schools

Three Marysville Getchell seniors want more counselors and improved training for staff.

Parked tractor-trailers line the side of 40th Avenue NE on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021 in Marysville, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Worker wonders why dead end Marysville road is rough and rutty

A stretch of 40th Avenue NE is mostly used for heavy trucking and isn’t in line for repairs soon.

Camano Island shooting leaves father dead; son arrested

Dominic Wagstaff, 21, was taken into custody late Sunday for investigation of the murder of Dean Wagstaff, 41.

Jean Shumate (left), seen here during a February 2019 school board meeting, will retire June 30 after 20 years at the Stanwood-Camano School District superintendent. (Skagit Valley Herald)
Stanwood-Camano superintendent to retire after 20 years

Jean Shumate has been at the helm longer than any other superintendent in Snohomish County.

Snohomish County Council delays education spending vote

The council is now slated to decide next week on the measure, which targets a pre-K learning gap.

Frances McDormand in "Nomadland." (Searchlight Pictures) 20210304
Masked in a nearly empty theater, a movie outing at last

Just four of us were in the audience for a matinee showing of “Nomadland” at Stanwood Cinemas.

Most Read