OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday he wishes states weren’t in constant competition to provide financial incentives
to secure jobs from big companies.
Inslee said he would like to see a national agreement to make that sort of state subsidy escalation illegal. His comments come just two months after Washington approved perhaps the largest corporate tax break in U.S. history — valued at nearly $9 billion — to persuade Boeing to build a new airplane in the state.
The Democratic governor likened the state competition to international subsidies banned by the World Trade Organization.
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So, while Washington state may have protection from subsidy competition from France, “we don’t have protection against Texas or Utah,” Inslee said.
Boeing recently explored bids from 22 states that wanted to secure the thousands of jobs that would come with production of the 777X. The company has promised to build the plane in the Puget Sound region after getting extended tax breaks from state lawmakers and concessions from union workers.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said Wednesday that the company used the state “to some extent” as leverage during the company’s negotiations in Washington state, where much of Boeing’s production already takes place.
Machinists in the Puget Sound area agreed last week to move away from traditional pensions to secure the long-term work on the 777X.
Inslee said the Machinists were in a difficult position, facing the prospect of jobs going elsewhere if they didn’t agree to the company’s demands.
“I don’t think anyone should say this is OK or acceptable or fair or beneficial or happy,” Inslee said. “It was just a fact of economic life, and the Machinists decided their destiny.”