OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington lawmakers moved swiftly Saturday to extend aerospace tax breaks in a bid to satisfy Boeing Co. and win the manufacturing work that will come with the company's new 777X production.
State senators voted by a 42-2 margin to extend the tax incentives all the way to 2040. House lawmakers gave the bill final approval Saturday afternoon by a 75-11 margin.
The benefits have a projected value of $9 billion.
"We are pleased and appreciative of the quick action by the Governor and legislature," Boeing said in response to the votes.
Lawmakers from both parties touted the importance of the Boeing jobs, especially for the long-term. Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, a Democrat who leads a largely Republican caucus, said the company has had an enormous impact on the state over the years and said the bill was a way to make sure it continues.
"It's an incredible opportunity that we can keep this going for the next generation," Tom said.
Even though the tax breaks weren't set to expire for several more years, Gov. Jay Inslee called the Legislature back to Olympia this week for a special session dedicated to the Boeing bills. Along with the tax package, senators voted to spend more than $15 million on worker-training programs and an effort to aid permitting for large aerospace manufacturing sites.
Inslee says the bills are necessary in order to win the manufacturing work that will come with Boeing's new 777X production.
Democratic Sen. Bob Hasegawa was one of the two senators to oppose the bill, expressing a variety of concerns. He was concerned that the bill didn't provide enough protections and that Boeing could use the 777X work to supplant work being done on the 787.
Hasegawa also expressed concern that the Legislature was essentially pressing union workers to accept a contract that may be beneficial to them. He was also concerned that lawmakers would approve such a large tax break after considering the issue for just a couple days.
"We haven't, I don't think, fully thought out the uses of that $9 billion," Hasegawa said.
Boeing has proposed a lengthy contract with the Machinists union and says the deal is necessary to secure the company's 777X commitment to the region. However, some workers have expressed opposition to the plan ahead of a vote next week.
Separately, Inslee had sought a $10 billion transportation package as part of the Boeing bills, although some lawmakers say that measure can be passed at a later date. Democratic Sen. Tracey Eide, a leader on transportation matters, said she hoped lawmakers could have an agreement on the package soon and be able to approve it at some point this month.