OLYMPIA -- The Senate gave overwhelming approval to bills designed to convince Boeing to build a new jetliner in Washington but rejected calls to spread the tax benefits and streamlined permit approvals to all businesses in the state.
On a 42 to 2 vote, the Senate extended tax breaks the aerospace industry currently enjoys for the 787 production through 2040, rewriting some provisions to include the new 777 X assembly line and a manufacturing facility for a new high-tech carbon fiber wing. The tax breaks have an estimated value of more than $8 billion to the aerospace giant, but would be cancelled if the company moves the assembly of the plane or any significant part manufacturing to another state.
On a 44 to 0 vote, the Senate approved a package of training programs for aerospace workers at state community and technical colleges and streamlined permitting for building new aerospace facilities.
Before each bill passed, however, the Senate rejected amendments that would cut the state's business and occupation tax by 40 percent for all businesses, and require all counties to process building permits as quickly as the aerospace projects will be handled.
"What's good for Goliath should be good for David," Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, said.
Boeing is special, Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane said, but the Senate should "make a statement today that Washington's small businesses are also important."
Both amendments failed on voice votes, and most senators stressed the impact Boeing has on the state's economy and lauded Gov. Jay Inslee for calling them into special session. But Baumgartner, who eventually voted for both bills, complained about the way they were rushed through committees outside the normal review process and with little chance for the public to understand what the Legislature was doing.
"I hope the next time there is a special deal for a special company. . .we do it in the normal way," he said.
The bills go to the House, which is expected to take them up this afternoon.