Boeing blame game begins in Olympia



Posted on October 28, 2009 at 5:32 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 28 at 6:02 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Boeing's announcement to put a second 787 assembly line in South Carolina and not in Everett already has leaders pointing fingers at who is to blame.

One state Republican leader called the announcement a disaster that state lawmakers could have helped prevent. While Gov. Christine Gregoire thinks Boeing is making a big mistake, she doesn't think anyone at the Capitol is to blame.

In a press conference shortly after Boeing's announcement, Gregoire said Boeing's CEO assured her that there's nothing anyone in Olympia could have done to change the outcome.

"He specifically said it's not about worker's compensation and it's not about state taxes. It's about the cost of salaries and benefits for the workers we have in Everett versus what we can pay in Charleston," said Gregoire.

"I think we could have enacted some of the reforms we needed last year when we were in session," said Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla. He called the move the most devastating news he's heard for Washington state in the past ten years

Hewitt believes lawmakers could have done more to lower costs for the businesses, specifically in worker's compensation and unemployment insurance.

"We still should have shown Boeing we're willing to step up to the plate and I'm disappointed labor did not do the same," said Hewitt.

Hewitt and Gregoire both agree that, in upcoming sessions, lawmakers must do more to keep companies like Boeing from looking to other states or countries.

"If we don't keep pace with the competition, you can rest assured Washington state is not going to be able to continue to keep all of those lines," said Gregoire.

Before the decision was announced, Hewitt suggested a special emergency session that he says should have been called to give lawmakers one last chance to prevent the move. Gregoire says it would not have made a difference.