No second guessing deal that kept Boeing 777X production in Everett.

Share story

LONG before Seattle was known for such tech stars as Amazon.com, Expedia and Microsoft, it was known for making airplanes.

In 2013, state lawmakers, intent on preserving that legacy — and tens of thousands of jobs — gave Boeing, the state’s largest private employer, an $8.7 billion, 16-year tax break that starts in 2024.

Now, some lawmakers are making waves about wanting to rework the deal after the company began moving some engineering jobs to other states.

Of course, elected officials must do their best to protect Washington jobs and wages, but asking for a rewrite of the Boeing deal is a lousy strategy.

State Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett, proposed HB 2147, which would reduce the tax break if Boeing’s employment levels dropped below a certain number. It has not made it out of committee.

Boeing is making good on its end of the deal to assemble the 777X jetliner and manufacture its carbon-composite wings in Everett. It will be a boon for Machinists for years to come, and for the state economy.

The 2013 agreement didn’t specify how many employees Boeing must maintain in Washington to keep the tax break or that Boeing can’t move jobs out of state.

It’s good to remember that although Boeing operates in numerous states, it employs about half its total workforce — some 80,000 workers — right here in Washington, and those workers’ average salary is $88,000. The company says it employs close to as many people in Washington state as Microsoft, Costco, Nordstrom and Starbucks combined.

In hindsight, some may want to second guess the deal struck between Boeing, Gov. Jay Inslee and the Legislature. Providing tax incentives to any company requires a delicate balance between enticing an employer to stay and giving away too much. In this case, a deal was struck and lawmakers have no business trying to legislate how many workers Boeing should employ.