Washington state pitches more help for Boeing

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 15, 2014 at 3:48 pm •  Published: January 15, 2014

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Even after giving Boeing Co. one of the largest packages of tax breaks in U.S. history, state leaders in Washington told the aerospace giant in a proposal released Wednesday that they are ready to do even more.

In the 164-page proposal obtained under public disclosure laws, Gov. Jay Inslee and his administration vowed to work with Boeing on water quality issues, workers' compensation costs and improved transportation infrastructure.

State officials identified more than $4 billion in possible transportation projects that they deemed "key to Boeing's success in Washington state." Lawmakers have yet to approve a transportation package proposed last year that would include those projects.

"Washington's government is stable and is dedicated to partnering with Boeing and its supply chain to create the most competitive economic environment possible," officials wrote in the pitch.

Washington leaders approved nearly $9 billion in tax breaks in November to aid Boeing, and the additional written proposal was designed to woo Boeing as the company considered competing bids from other states interested in attracting work.

The bidding process became unnecessary after machinists in Puget Sound voted earlier this month to approve contract concessions that led to a promise by Boeing to build the 777X in the region.

The latest proposal from the Inslee administration raised issues such as water quality that have been sensitive for the governor and his fellow Democrats.

"We are eager to partner with Boeing to better understand the company's specific challenges and to develop reasonable and rational water quality regulations that protect the health of Washingtonians without unduly impacting the company and other economic engines of our state," officials wrote.

For years, state officials have been studying the water quality standards influenced by estimates of how much fish people eat.

Washington's estimate is that average fish consumption amounts to just 8 ounces — roughly one fillet — per person, per month. Environmental groups are pushing federal and state officials to adopt more realistic estimates, something that could force changes in water quality rules.