Aircraft-repair tax incentive soars through Senate

Washington is synonymous with the aerospace industry, and not just the Puget Sound area. Hundreds of family-wage jobs exist elsewhere in the state thanks in part to tax policy supported by legislation from state Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake. Her Senate Bill 6068, which was approved on the next-to-last day of the Senate’s first round of voting, would retain proven tax incentives for large airplanes undergoing modification work in Washington.

An evaluation of the original 2013 legislation by the non-partisan Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee showed the tax preferences have attracted an entire industry to the state.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth in this industry in and around Moses Lake and it is due to smart tax policy like this,” said Warnick. “It only makes sense to extend this practice for the next decade to ensure high-quality employment opportunities in our community.”

Public testimony in support of the legislation noted that only a handful of companies in the world do the kind of repair, maintenance and modification work now being performed in the 13th District served by Warnick. Failing to extend this slate of tax preferences would prompt an exodus of thousands of jobs, she said

Under Warnick’s legislation, large aircraft owned by nonresidents that are undergoing work in Washington would be exempt from registration fees, and sales and use tax; an aircraft excise tax would be paid in lieu of a property tax.

“Our community is the perfect place for this kind of work. People may not know that the Grant County airport has one of the biggest airfields in the world. We have a highly skilled workforce, inexpensive and abundant energy and lots of space to meet the needs of this global industry that is calling Washington home,” Warnick said. “I’m hopeful that this policy will continue to attract talent and economic opportunity to the district and state.”

The Senate approved the legislation by a vote of 47 to 1 and now heads to the House of Representatives.