Governor Jay Inslee’s surprise announcement of a deal with Boeing to build their next-generation airliner in Washington has left our Legislature with a lot to accomplish in their special session. At the top of the agenda is a $10 billion transportation bill and an $8.7 billion package of tax credits for Boeing through 2040.
The Governor hopes the pressure of a deal to keep Boeing in Washington will get legislators to agree to the transportation plan that includes a big tax gas tax hike. But until we reform the wasteful spending and bloated bureaucracy that make transportation projects cost twice as much as other states, we’ll never be able to afford the repair, replacement and improvement our transportation system needs. An efficient transportation system is important to not just Boeing, but all the citizens and businesses in the state, and reforms that make highway projects affordable is the first step, not ever-increasing taxes and spending.
While tax credits can be helpful in encouraging business expansion and jobs, how much of Boeing’s tax credits are simply to offset the cost of the state’s anti-business regulations? Gov. Inslee promised Boeing that their aircraft factory permits would be put on a fast track, but why aren’t we making permitting easier for all businesses? Boeing is concerned (like all commercial operations in the Puget Sound region) that new Department of Ecology water quality regulations will be impossible to meet, effectively shutting down all development. Gov. Inslee promised them a “balanced, practical” plan, but shouldn’t he have already instructed the DOE not to harm businesses with senseless over-regulation? And couldn’t a better deal have been reached if the Workers Compensation reform that Boeing supported had been passed in the last session?
The pressure is on the Legislature to quickly pass all the elements of this deal; but we need legislation that benefits all the people and businesses of Washington. If Boeing needs protection from our state’s job-killing policies in order to remain dynamic in Washington, so do the rest of us.
Nansen Malin is the Washington State Director for Americans for Prosperity, an organization committed to educating citizens about economic policy and mobilizing those citizens as advocates in the public policy process.