House Bill 2088 will provide the following funding for the 2013/2015 biennium:
- Additional funding to increase enrollment in aerospace worker education and training.
- Funding to expand or construct aerospace worker education and training facilities in Everett and Renton.
- Grants to local governments to help pay for environmental permitting activities related to large aerospace facilities (aka Boeing).
Senate Bill 5952 extended the expiration date for eight separate tax incentives provided to the aerospace industry from 2024 to 2040. The bill is contingent on Boeing making a commitment by June 30, 2017, to build the 777X in Washington.
That's the easy part of the story. The more complex plots involve Gov. Jay Inslee's drive to get the Legislature to approve the bills only hours after seeing the actual bill language, and the action of the Boeing machinists rejecting the latest labor agreement.
The underlying merits of the legislation may indeed be worthy of a special session, given the value of the aerospace industry to the state's economy (second only to Agriculture). However, there were critics who argued that more time should have been provided for both legislators and the public to review the bills.
And the drama didn't end with the final gavel of the special session. On Wednesday of this week, the Boeing machinists union voted 2-to-1 to reject the company's latest contract offer. The rejection of the contract agreement now has Boeing publicly stating they may move 777X production to another state if they can find more favorable labor and tax rates.
All this sets up the biggest game of chicken that Washington has ever experienced. The unions are counting on the fact that Boeing is bluffing. But if they are wrong, tens of thousands of jobs are at stake. All you have to do is look at Detroit to see how this would impact our region.
One final note, Gov. Inslee had also wanted the Legislature to approve a gas tax and reach agreement on how to move forward on establishing fish consumption rates (a back-door attempt to dramatically increase water quality regulations). The Legislature was not prepared to act on either of these high-stakes issues last week.