SEATTLE --- A dispute over $8.7 billion in Washington state tax breaks is heating up after Boeing Co joined a new lobbying group set up to preserve the industry incentives, the biggest in U.S. history.
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 group also may oppose European Union efforts to eliminate the incentives under World Trade Organization rules, and may try to extend them to Washington's growing space industry, Daudon said.
Chicago-based Boeing, the world's biggest commercial aircraft maker, has its largest factories in Washington, and is the state's largest private employer, with 72,000 workers.
As with previous proposals, "Boeing is opposed to any effort to alter the Washington aerospace tax incentives," the company said in a statement on Tuesday. (end of excerpt)
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