Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Weekly News Conference—Boeing/Transportation
April 24, 2003
Good morning. Thanks for coming today.
Before we begin, I just want to express our heartfelt support for Senate Majority Leader Jim West. Senator West planned on being here with us today. We all wish Jim our very best for a complete and swift recovery.
I am joined this morning by Martha Choe, director of the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development; and Paul Isaki, my Special Assistant for Business.
I’d also like to welcome some of our legislative leaders, Senate Minority Leader Lisa Brown, House Minority Leader Cathy McMorris, as well as Reps. Jeff Morris and Bruce Chandler, and Senators Aaron Reardon and Paul Shin.
We’re here this morning to talk about Boeing and Boeing jobs, specifically the jobs involved in final assembly of the Boeing 7E7.
We want those jobs here in Washington. That’s why we have been working with Boeing for more than a year now. And we’ve been taking action to keep the work in our state.
Boeing is preparing specific criteria on which the 7E7 decision will be based. When we get the criteria, we’ll move ahead in a bipartisan fashion to take every additional responsible action to land 7E7 assembly in Washington.
In the meantime, what are we doing to keep and grow Boeing jobs?
First, we are closing on a transportation package. Last night I met with Alan Mulally, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. I gave him an update on business environment and competitiveness issues. We also discussed transportation improvements, which are critical to keeping 7E7 final assembly in our state.
We must improve our transportation system. We must clear up traffic congestion and improve freight mobility, which requires non-gas tax money. The Boeing final assembly operation depends on the smooth movement of parts and sub-assemblies from suppliers to the factory. Employees must be able to get to and from work. Our entire state needs these improvements.
I’ve been calling meetings every week with Legislative leadership – even all night when necessary – and I’ve also held separate meetings with House transportation leaders and Senate transportation leaders. I’m confident we can reach a compromise solution before the end of this session. We must.
We’ve also been working on our business environment. We’ve made substantial progress since the Washington Competitiveness Council issued its recommendations. We’ve cut red tape, and streamlined regulatory processes.
The Department of Ecology has led the way in transforming to a more business-friendly approach, without compromising environmental priorities. Last year, for example, we approved a Safeway distribution center—the largest construction project in Safeway’s history—in less than 60 days without lowering environmental standards. The site had contaminated soil.
This project was important for Safeway. It was also important for Boeing, because Boeing wanted to sell the land to Safeway. And it was important for our economy because it meant turning an underused asset into an economically productive area.
Seven national chains have located regional distribution centers in Washington state since January of 2002, generating approximately 1900 jobs in our state. These companies appreciate our improved business climate. We want Boeing to choose Washington too.
We’re aggressively pushing other legislation that will help Boeing and other businesses in Washington. I support reforms to the Unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation systems. The reforms will make these systems more fair while still ensuring a safety net for unemployed or injured workers. One bill awaiting House action is a modified form of Tax Increment Financing. This will allow local governments to fund infrastructure development by banking on tax revenues new development will generate. The private sector needs this infrastructure to invest and grow
I have also just signed into law an important piece of use tax correction legislation. The new law clarifies use tax exemptions that complement existing sales tax exemptions for repairs on industrial equipment. This, too, should help Washington businesses.
We’re pushing the shoreline legislation that will support the Boeing rail-barge facility in Everett, and we’re also working to pave the way for the third SeaTac runway.
The Community Economic Revitalization Board program has created thousands of jobs for rural areas, but has lost its funding source. That’s why I requested the temporary funding bill that was passed last year. We’re pushing for more permanent funding source this session—that bill is still alive.
And we must give the universities greater flexibility in tuition-setting authority. This will ensure that they can continue to produce new engineers and other future knowledge workers for Boeing and other technology industries.
Boeing is extremely valuable to our state’s economy. We have the facilities and the workforce here to support 7E7 final assembly. We’re doing all we can as a state government to keep those jobs here. Just as other states are focusing on keeping existing supplier relationships and business that support Boeing, we’re focusing on retaining the work we’ve always done well for Boeing—final assembly.
Paul Isaki has been working with Boeing on the decisive business issues for more than a year. And Martha Choe has pledged her agency’s complete support as well.
We are proud to be the home of Boeing commercial airplanes—the best airplanes in the world. We are proud of the success and prosperity Boeing has brought to our state. We are proud of our long and distinguished history with Boeing.
We want to build a great future with Boeing. We will continue in our determined efforts to keep Boeing 7E7 final assembly in our state. We will pass a transportation improvement package, and continue to improve the business climate here. We want Boeing final assembly and Boeing jobs to stay where they belong—right here in Washington state.
And now we’ll take your questions.