By Erik Smith, Washington State Wire
Jaws dropped at the statehouse Tuesday as Gov. Jay Inslee, surrounded by lawmakers, union leaders and officials of the Boeing Co., announced a deal to stop the aircraft maker’s flight from Washington and send lawmakers scurrying back to their desks for a special session that begins Thursday.
Boeing gets tax breaks worth $8.7 billion through 2040, and a promise that sometime soon lawmakers will pass a $10 billion transportation tax package that includes a gas-tax hike — perhaps within the next few days. The state will put aircraft-factory permits on the fast track. And it vows to develop a “balanced, practical” plan for more stringent water-quality standards contemplated by the Department of Ecology – perhaps quelling a big fear for industry in this state.
And in return? The state lands the new factory for the 777X, the next-generation airliner on which Boeing stakes its hopes, and the more than 50,000 jobs and billions of dollars in economic benefit that come with it. As Boeing CEO Ray Conner watched approvingly from a corner of the conference room, Inslee said that if lawmakers pass the transportation tax and the tax-break package, the state has a deal.