A new Elway Poll indicates that most state residents oppose the Boeing Machinists Union's decision, which passed a 67-33 percent margin, to reject a contract that would have required cuts to health care and the company's traditional pension system. According to Elway, 56 percent of state residents said they would have voted to approve the contract, compared to 31 percent who said they would have voted no.
Sixty-six percent of respondents said the tax breaks were worth it, while just 22 percent said they weren't. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 5 percent.
Now that Boeing has opened up the competition to build the new 777X elsewhere, 50 percent of all respondents said the state should offer more incentives (on top of the $8.2 billion in tax breaks the legislature recently passed) to keep the company here, while 38 percent said the state would do “better off to save its money, stay with the current package of incentives, and risk having the 777X plant go to another state" if Boeing isn't satisfied with the current incentives.
Back in 2009, 58 percent of respondents to a similar Elway Poll said the state should provide more incentives to prevent Boeing from building a new plant in South Carolina, which is currently courting the company for the 777X contract. Interestingly, Washington residents seem resigned to Boeing's gradual departure: Just 39 percent said they expected the 777X would be built here, and half said they believed the company's presence in the state would be smaller if the plane isn't built here.
And although voters don't generally support investments in transportation to keep Boeing here, "there has been significant movement toward support and there is no longer a majority in opposition," the survey found: 47 percent said that in light of the Boeing incentives and subsequent union vote, "we cannot afford not to improve the transportation system, so taxes will have to be raised," while 45 percent said the state can't afford to raise taxes for transportation now.
Those numbers are within the margin of error, but they represent a movement of 16 points since last June, when 54 percent said the state can't afford to pay for transportation improvements and 40 percent said we can't afford not to do so.
The state senate's Majority Coalition Caucus is currently considering a $12.3 billion transportation package that would primarily fund new roads and highways; a separate survey, by the Washington State Transportation Commission, found that most Washington residents want to prioritize existing road maintenance and safety, followed by transit and bike and pedestrian improvements.