Disclosure of Boeing’s spending and tax breaks last year in Washington state shows the public made a great investment in supporting the company.

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THREE of the best investments made by the state of Washington over the last generation were to support the University of Washington, Microsoft and Boeing.

Taxpayer support at important points helped propel all three forward. The public’s return on those investments is incredible — all three entities created priceless economic clusters, tens of thousands of jobs and a culture of innovation carrying us forward.

Washington must continue to make these smart investments, a job that should be easier thanks to new disclosure rules that help the public understand the extent and benefits of tax incentives approved by the Legislature.

Support for corporate tax breaks has been strained at times because of periodic bouts of job losses and Microsoft and Boeing moving some operations to cheaper states.

Even so, over the long term, beneficiaries of state largesse have continued to grow and attract smart people and other companies. Those people have started and attracted more companies. This cycle and the opportunities it creates are the public’s dividends.

With Boeing, the state structured a tax deal that guarantees the company will build its new 777X in Washington. This solidifies the region’s prominent role in the emergence of lightweight, composite materials that are increasingly used to manufacture fuel-efficient vehicles.

Ramping up to build the 777X boosted Boeing’s overall spending in Washington last year to $13 billion. That’s just direct spending and doesn’t include expenditures or payroll of suppliers, such as carbon-fiber experts gearing up in Everett.

Because Boeing spent so much, and its tax breaks correspond to spending levels, its tax savings were higher than expected — $305 million altogether last year.

Perhaps the state could have done a better job forecasting the size of tax breaks it was providing. Either way, the Boeing spending that resulted shows that it was a good investment.

Also worth celebrating are transparency rules that are giving the public more information about the tax incentives Boeing and others receive and the outcome of these programs.

These rules, championed by state Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, and passed into law in 2013, require the state to gather and publicly disclose the value of most large tax exemptions.

Disclosure is triggered when tax breaks are modified or extended, as Boeing’s were in 2013, when the Legislature expanded an incentive package first created in 2003.

The state Department of Revenue is still working out how to implement what a spokeswoman called a “massive change in transparency and disclosure.”

This effort was advanced by Times reporter Jim Brunner, who challenged the agency’s interpretation of how the rules applied to Boeing. The agency thought it could wait a decade before disclosing the value of Boeing’s tax breaks, but reconsidered after Brunner’s challenge.

Further clarification of the disclosure rules will come later this month. The agency is finalizing rules that specify when companies can request a waiver, asserting that disclosure would cause them economic harm.

These rules must be narrow and favor the broadest possible transparency, as called for by the disclosure law.

The public and lawmakers need as much information as possible to make good decisions about the state budget and the allocation of its tax burden.

This knowledge will be especially useful in 2017, when the Legislature will make broad tax changes to fulfill its school-funding obligations.

All of this will help taxpayers and lawmakers make wise and prudent investments in Washington’s future.