Gov. Inslee defends his call for 'hard look' at Boeing's tax breaks as company moves to end 787 Dreamliner production in Everett

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fairly difficult
Gov. Jay Inslee is demanding a hard look at Boeing tax breaks, but some elected officials called his comments divisive.
Gov. Jay Inslee is standing by his call for a "hard look" at state tax breaks that have reduced Boeing's tax bill by hundreds of millions annually, even as some elected leaders criticized his stance as divisive.

Speaking at a news conference Thursday, Inslee said he had not made any decisions, but insisted Boeing's preferential tax treatment — long enshrined in Washington's tax code through bipartisan votes — will be on the table in the coming months.

"We cannot be a state that just takes orders from any corporation, any company," Inslee said, repeatedly expressing frustration at Boeing's decision to permanently halt production of the 787 in Snohomish County, shifting the jobs to South Carolina.

That's a sharp contrast from 2013, when Inslee enthusiastically called the Legislature into a special session to pass a record-setting extension of tax breaks for Boeing, praising the package as "great news for every Washingtonian."

The governor's tone shifted last year, during his unsuccessful run for the Democratic presidential nomination, when he likened Boeing's tax deals in national media interviews to "extortion" and getting "mugged." Despite that rhetoric, he had not previously proposed clawing back the tax breaks.

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Some Snohomish County leaders pushed back strongly against Inslee's tax statements Thursday, saying the state should focus on bolstering its relationship with the aerospace giant.

"It's time to look at how we strengthen that partnership and support each other through this. I do not see this as a time for division," said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, a Democrat.

Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin said Washington needed to be "the most business-friendly state in the country … It's not a time for division. What our community needs is hope."

Asked about their comments, Inslee said he shares the local officials' goals of strengthening aerospace manufacturing. But he called the rethinking of the tax breaks a matter of fairness.

"To…
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