Only a little time left for legislators to vote on Boeing tax breaks bill

OLYMPIA — Time is running out for backers of a bill tying Boeing Co. tax breaks to the number of people the company employs in Washington.

Sponsored by an Everett lawmaker, the bill has been in the House Finance Committee for nearly a month with no sign that the chairman is going to bring it up for a vote.

But Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett, brushed aside insinuations that it is dead, saying Friday that it is still in play as the Legislature enters the last three weeks of a 105-day session.

“We’re still working on getting to a ‘yes,’ ” Robinson said. “There’s interest in moving it. I’m definitely not done working it.”

House Bill 2147 would amend a law passed in a November 2013 special session to help land Boeing’s 777X program in Everett.

That law extended a suite of tax incentives to 2040 in exchange for the aerospace giant agreeing to assemble its newest jetliner in the state. The extension will save Boeing an estimated $8.7 billion in tax payments to the state through 2040.

Robinson’s bill would alter the 2013 law by linking those incentives with the size of Boeing’s workforce. Should the workforce shrink — and it has since the extension was enacted — the tax break would shrink, too.

“If the jobs stay, the tax breaks stay, and if the jobs leave, the tax break incrementally goes away. I think that is fair,” Robinson said at a March 13 public hearing in the Finance Committee.

Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, the committee chairman, said in a recent interview that he won’t bring the bill up for a vote without Republican support.

“The only chance it has is if there is a bipartisan consensus,” Carlyle said. “There are some Republicans interested in this, and we are trying to figure out what it would take for them to shift” to full support.

Carlyle declined to name the Republicans, only saying, “I think there’s a potential for a path forward, but it depends on the broader agreement.”

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 751 and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace crafted the bill in response to layoffs and transfers of work since the 2013 special session.

As written, Boeing must employ at least 83,295 workers in Washington to receive the full tax break. It is reduced incrementally based on the number of workers, and it disappears if the total company employment reaches 5,000 or more below the baseline. At the end of 2014, the company had 81,497 employees, according to figures provided by committee staff.

Boeing argues that the bill’s supporters focus only on what’s occurred in the past 12 months. The company has added 30,000 jobs in Washington since 2003, half of which are held by Machinists or engineers, the company says. Today, more than half of Boeing’s workforce worldwide is in Washington.

On Friday, the legislative and political director for the Machinists sounded upbeat about the chances of getting the bill to the floor for a full vote in the House.

“While the budget has been taking up most of the oxygen,” this week “is our opportunity to make a final push get it out of the Finance Committee,” said Larry Brown, the union’s point man in Olympia. “We think there’s interest in the bill.”

Even if the House passes it, leaders of the Republican-controlled Senate strongly oppose it.

Gov. Jay Inslee has steered clear of the Boeing debate but has said he doesn’t want to do anything that might “jeopardize the growth that we’re experiencing with the 777X program.”

Opponents want the legislation to go away but know it hasn’t yet.

“I’m hoping it’s dead,” said Linda Lanham, president of the Aerospace Futures Alliance, the voice of aerospace supply firms. “It’s unclear because they’re still talking about it.”

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

Talk to us

More in Local News

Arif Ghouseat flips through his work binder in his office conference room Paine Field on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Paine Field Airport director departing for Sea-Tac job

Arif Ghouse, who oversaw the launch of commercial air travel at Paine Field, is leaving after eight years.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of education.
Public school enrollment still down, even as rural districts grow

Smaller districts in Snohomish County seem to be recovering more quickly — and gaining students — than their urban counterparts.

Angelica Montanari and daughter Makena, 1, outside of the Community Health Center of Snohomish County Everett-Central Clinic on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Amid patient woes, CHC of Snohomish County staffers push for a union

Doctors and nurse practitioners are worried about providers being shut out from clinical decisions, which hurts patient care.

Students make their way after school at Edmonds-Woodway High School on March 12, 2020. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
After Edmonds schools internet outage, staff ‘teaching like it’s the 1900s’

“Suspicious activities” on the district’s network delayed classes and caused schedule havoc. “Kids are using pencil and paper again.”

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
Retooling drug laws, protecting octopus and honoring a cactus

It’s already Day 26. Here’s what’s happening in the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

April Berg, left, and John Lovick
Snohomish County legislators talk race, policy in Seattle

Rep. April Berg and Sen. John Lovick chatted about Tyre Nichols and education at an event kicking off Black History Month.

A suspect removes a rifle bag from a broken rear window of a Seattle police car on May 30 in downtown Seattle. An Everett man, Jacob D. Little, 24, has been charged with the theft of the high-powered rifle stolen from the car. This image is from the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court. 20200904
Everett man sentenced for stealing police gun in Seattle protest

Jacob Little, 26, now faces second-degree murder charges for allegedly killing a man in Renton in August 2020.

Switzerland delegate Markus Herrmann listens while 12th grade students speak with him during a special event set up for their AP Comparative Government class at Glacier Peak High School on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
European delegates talk American culture with Glacier Peak students

Representatives from 18 different EU countries made a stop in Snohomish during their US tour.

Community Transit is leasing a 60-foot articulated BYD battery electric bus this year as an early step in the zero emission planning process. (Community Transit)
Community Transit testing 60-foot electric bus

The agency leased the BYD K11M for $132,000 this year as the first step in its zero-emission planning process.

Most Read