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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
To the surprise of nearly everyone on Tuesday, Governor Inslee called for a special session to begin on Thursday. The purpose: to pass a package of legislation aimed at helping the aerospace industry and secure the production of Boeing's 777X in our state.
Specifically, the governor wants state lawmakers to advance bills addressing the extension of tax incentives for the aerospace industry, education and workforce development for aerospace workers, streamlined permitting, and transportation (i.e. raising the state gas tax and fees to pay for transportation projects). He also highlighted water quality/fish consumption, but signaled this could be handled through executive rulemaking. You can watch the governor's news conference from Tuesday here. He frames the special session in this document.
The governor wants legislative action completed before the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers votes on a contract with Boeing next week. However, the ratification of the contract has its challenges. You can find a news story from today here in which District 751 President Tom Wroblewski is critical of Boeing's offer. You can learn more about the contract proposal here.
Helping all sectors of our economy
We all know the aerospace industry is vital to our state's economy. Boeing is central to this industry and our regional workforce. We also know other states, most notably South Carolina, are rolling out the welcome mats for our employers in an effort to uproot them. I don't want to lose another Boeing job to any state.
I am supportive of improving our state's business climate – including ways to help the advanced manufacturing and production sectors of our economy flourish. But it shouldn't stop there. We should be looking to help all sectors of our economy be successful – so they can grow and hire more people. This includes reforming our workers' compensation system, taking a hard look at our state's tax system and eliminating the bureaucracy that entangles our small businesses. I am hoping that the end of this special session will be the beginning of a broader discussion on how we can help all employers be successful in our state.
An inclusive citizen Legislature
One concern I have with this special session is how quickly the Legislature will have to vote on major pieces of legislation. State lawmakers have had very little time to review the proposed measures. The drafts of the bills were revealed just yesterday. Not only is this unsettling to state lawmakers who want to make thorough, informed decisions, it also shuts the public out of the legislative process.
Your citizen Legislature should be transparent and inclusive – not exclusive. And it should be deliberative. This is not a partisan assessment – even some of my Democratic colleagues have expressed their frustration with the governor's actions.
Should a transportation revenue package be considered right now?
I also have concerns about the governor's insistence that a transportation revenue package is necessary right now and needs to be a part of the package of legislation in this special session. I respectfully disagree with the governor and he appears to be out on a limb on this issue. House Democratic and Senate Majority Coalition Caucus leadership have also said the issue can wait. These views are expressed in this article.
It is well documented that our state has serious problems in its transportation system – ones that have led to the waste of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. There have to be real reforms and accountability measures put in place before the Legislature even considers asking people to pay more at the pump. But the governor and House Democrats have not signaled yet that they are supportive of these solutions. We also cannot lose sight of this simple but important fact: many people, especially those on fixed incomes, cannot afford to pay 10 cents or more per gallon of gas. Many of you told me this in my recent transportation survey. The message was received.
Keeping you informed
I expect to be in Olympia through Saturday and perhaps beyond. Like you, I am hoping to pause on Monday to honor the men and women of our military for Veterans' Day. As issues develop in the special session, I will keep you informed.
In your service,
426A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000