Aerospace bills draw some local 'no' votes

Wylie, Pike, Orcutt vote against either one or the other

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

Published:

 

How they voted

Senate Bill 5952, providing tax incentives to the aerospace industry until 2040:

YES

Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver

Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia

Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver

Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima

Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center

Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis

Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver

Rep. Norm Johnson, R-Yakima

Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama

Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas

Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver

Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver

Rep. Brandon Vick, R-Vancouver

NO

Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver

NOT VOTING

Rep. Charles Ross, R-Naches

House Bill 2088, providing state money for aerospace training programs, and environmental permitting help for large aerospace facilities:

YES

Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver

Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia

Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver

Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima

Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center

Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis

Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver

Rep. Norm Johnson, R-Yakima

Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver

Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver

Rep. Brandon Vick, R-Vancouver

Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver

NO

Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama

Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas

NOT VOTING

Rep. Charles Ross, R-Naches

Most state legislators representing Clark County voted Saturday in favor of two bills to help keep aerospace jobs in Washington, but there were three who didn't agree with one measure or the other. Both bills passed easily on Saturday and were signed into law Monday.

State Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, voted against a bill to extend tax breaks to aerospace companies, such as Boeing, until 2040. The tax incentives will cost the state an estimated $9 billion during the decades to come, and many legislators said the breaks are necessary to ensure Boeing builds its 777X planes in Washington state.

Wylie said she had a lot of questions about the bill, "and frankly, there wasn't time to answer my questions, so I voted no." Wylie said she's a supporter of the aerospace industry, but she wasn't happy that Boeing was playing hardball with Washington jobs.

She also said the bill raised issues of fairness for other businesses. Washington has an "unsustainable, awkward, archaic tax system, and we make special deals for the very biggest businesses that we're dependent on," she said.

Reps. Liz Pike, R-Camas, and Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, voted against another bill to spend about $17 million in state money on aerospace training programs. The bill also would speed up permitting rules for aerospace companies building new facilities.

Pike said Monday that she was conflicted on both pieces of legislation, but she ultimately voted in favor of the tax incentive because it was a break on the business and occupation tax, a tax Pike wants to repeal. She said she voted against the workforce training bill because it seemed like an overreach of the government, and because it takes the wrong approach to environmental regulations.

"I'm not convinced it's the government's duty to use taxpayer dollars to pay for workforce development for a multinational, multimillion-dollar company," Pike said.

House members approved the aerospace tax break 75-11, with 12 members not voting, while senators approved the bill 42-2, with five members not voting. House members approved spending for aerospace training 77-9, with 12 members not voting. Senators approved the training bill 43-0, and six members in the Senate didn't vote.

"We have a history of aerospace industry in this state, and we want to continue that history," Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, said. "We need to make sure that all employers and all job creators are given the same opportunity to expedite their ability to create jobs, especially now, coming out of this rough economy."

Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, called the two bills approved during the special session "a sound and needed strategy for keeping thousands of jobs in Washington. ... Many hundreds of men and women in Clark County and other regions all across our state are on the job in aerospace careers."

Moeller said the tax incentive bill passed over the weekend includes a condition that the manufacturing jobs Boeing creates with its 777X project must stay in Washington state.

Transportation package

Last week's legislative session was the third special session in the Washington Legislature this year. It started Thursday and concluded Saturday without lawmakers approving a transportation tax package, valued at about $10 billion. Some legislators said they hope to revisit the plan in an upcoming session, stressing a need to invest in transportation projects across the state.

Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, said lawmakers couldn't reach an agreement yet on the transportation plan, but he hopes a deal can be struck soon, maybe before the end of this month. King, co-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, and other lawmakers have traveled the state this year to learn about residents' transportation needs.

"It's now our responsibility to do our due diligence and consider all that input without rushing through it," King said in a statement.

Union contract next

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee signed the two aerospace incentive bills into law Monday. Now attention is focused on a contract vote later this week by the Machinists union, as Boeing also has sought a broad new contract with machinists as part of the deal to build the 777X in Washington.

Some machinists have indicated opposition to the contract because it includes concessions. Political leaders, including many Democrats who are closely aligned with unionized workers, have declined to encourage machinists how to vote but have asked them to consider the broader impact on jobs and future generations.

Union members are set to vote Wednesday. Tom Wroblewski, president of the Machinists District 751, stood with Boeing representatives and political leaders at the bill signing Monday. He declined to give his opinion on the contract and said it was a very emotional decision for members to make. He said they need to consider what's best for their families, including their grandchildren.

Boeing, with its tens of thousands of workers in the Puget Sound area, has great influence in the state Legislature. But some lawmakers are sensitive about tax breaks for the company. In 2003, the Legislature passed a broad package of tax breaks and other benefits for Boeing, all in an effort to keep the company's 787 manufacturing in Washington. However, in the years that followed wing production was placed in Japan, and a new production line was established in South Carolina.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.