New coalition advocates for aerospace, points to economic impact and benefits of good tax policy

Aerospace Works for Washington, a new coalition organized as a project of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, has been formed to advocate for the state’s aerospace industry. The group

is a statewide coalition of elected officials, business and community organizations advocating for our state’s aerospace industry.

The organization’s website pulls together a lot of good information about the economic impacts of the aerospace industry in Washington. For example,

Some quick facts about aerospace in Washington state:

  • 252,800: Total jobs supported by the aerospace industry in 2015
  • $94.7 billion: Total economic activity generated by the aerospace industry in 2015
  • $21.3 billion: Washington wages supported by the aerospace industry in 2015
  • $363.1 million: Total state taxes supported by the aerospace industry in 2015, including revenues to pay for vital services like education, social services, and infrastructure
  • Since 2011, the share of Boeing’s workforce based in Washington has remained steady, accounting for 47.74 to 49.58 percent of the company’s jobs

More information is available in the 2016 aerospace economic impact report released last October. Coalition members include the Association of Washington Business, the Washington Roundtable, Alaska Airlines, Boeing, and a number of economic development groups and chambers of commerce. 

A Reuters report on the group calls attention to the state’s aerospace tax incentives.

The group, launched on Tuesday, opposes efforts to make the aerospace tax breaks, passed in 2013, dependent on Boeing maintaining minimum employment levels in the state. 

Such “claw-back” bills had failed the past two years, but union leaders and a lawmaker said in interviews on Tuesday they planned to try again in the legislative session that started this week.

The new group, Aerospace Works for Washington, will be a “megaphone” to warn that jobs are at risk, said Maud Daudon, chief executive of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, which is leading the effort.

“We are in a competition to keep them here,” she said. “Any state in the country would die to get these jobs.”

The reference to “claw-back” legislation is not accurate. Clawbacks are provisions put in legislation to provide a way of recovering tax revenues if a company fails to deliver on promised benefits.

Many states seek repayment of incentives known as a clawback. A clawback is a provision in an economic development agreement that requires a company to repay any financial benefit gained for which it did not meet certain performance thresholds, such as job targets, capital investment levels or project timelines.

No one is seriously arguing that The Boeing Company has failed to do what it promised today. What some legislators and union leaders are attempting to do is change the terms of an agreement after the fact. That’s quite different and, as we’ve written, sends a troubling message. If anyone can be accused of breaking their promises, it would be lawmakers seeking a retroactive rewrite of the incentive legislation.