Transportation plan not key to keeping Boeing

Gov. Inslee has linked it with retaining the aerospace giant, but other issues are far more critical.

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Is upgrading Washington state’s transportation infrastructure important? Absolutely.

Better and more efficient roadways are essential for this state to prosper.

But is approving an agreement on a $10 billion transportation-tax package by next week critical to keep Boeing building airliners in Washington state?

Well, Gov. Jay “Special Sauce” Inslee implied, as the Legislature began a special session on Boeing issues, that not approving the transportation package could be a deal breaker to keeping Boeing in the state to build the next version of the 777 in Washington.

Boeing, as well as other corporations in Washington, favor improving transportation but it’s hyperbole to hint it is central to Boeing’s decision.

Inslee toned down the rhetoric Thursday sending another statement that says transportation is among the “elements needed” to keep the jet maker competitive.

The governor should not have gone there in the first place, just as he went over the top during his campaign for governor last year, claiming the economy could be invigorated with a “secret sauce ... and that is innovation.”

Keeping Boeing in Washington is important and so is financing a long-term transportation plan. Commingling the issues is a mistake.

Linking Boeing’s future here with approval of a $10 billion tax package feels like extortion or, at least, political shenanigans.

The Legislature should not have to rush to a decision on such an enormous tax package. It needs to be worked out during a regular session of the Legislature in a way that the public finds acceptable.

More critical to keeping Boeing in the state is for the Legislature to extend tax breaks for the aerospace giant for another 16 years.

And, perhaps even more importantly, Boeing must reach an agreement with the machinists union. A vote is scheduled for Wednesday.

The last major union clash with Boeing resulted in the company establishing a non-union plant in South Carolina rather than building it in Everett.

Let’s not repeat history.

Transportation is not the linchpin here.

Inslee needs to focus on keeping Boeing in Washington, not using it to promote other issues on his agenda.

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