Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The third special session of 2013 ended on November 9 following the passage of two pieces of legislation aimed at helping our aerospace industry and securing the production of Boeing's 777X in our state.
- Senate Bill 5952 would extend the expiration date of existing aerospace tax incentives from July 1, 2024 to July 1, 2040, upon the siting of a significant commercial airplane manufacturing program in Washington – including a carbon fiber wing manufacturing program. It would also expand the availability of a sales and use tax exemption for the construction of facilities used to manufacture commercial airplanes.
- House Bill 2088 would expand our state's investment in aerospace education and workforce development and increase enrollment in related fields at community and technical colleges. It would also provide grant money for local governments to assist in paying for environmental permitting activities for large manufacturing sites for aerospace and other key economic growth centers.
Despite the governor's wish, state lawmakers did not consider a transportation revenue package, which includes a state gas tax increase. However, this issue remains front and center in Olympia.
With the Legislature's work completed and the bills signed into law November 11, attention turned to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers' (IAM) contract vote with Boeing on November 13. In a vote that reverberated across the country, the IAM soundly rejected the contract offer by a 67 percent vote. In a question and answer document posted online the next day, Boeing made it clear that it will not re-engage the IAM on contract negotiations until 2016 and it will review 777X options in other states. Boeing expects to make a decision in the next two to three months. Whether you feel the IAM turned down a good offer or Boeing asked too much from the IAM, there is one thing everyone can agree on: the future of the aerospace industry in our state is uncertain.
The end of the special session should be the starting point for an important dialogue on how we can help all sectors of our economy. As one of my colleagues said, “If it's good for Goliath, it's good for David.” In other words, if we are going to help Boeing with tax incentives and their permitting processes, we need to help small businesses with tax incentives and their permitting processes. Our state needs to be proactive – not reactive – when it comes to improving its business climate and sending the right messages to employers. If not, our state will be in crisis mode while other states actively recruit our businesses.
In your service,