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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Alcoa Decision To Idle Plants Comes After Tax Breaks Renewed
Jarle Vines Jarvin
Wikimedia Commons
File photo of an Alcoa aluminim smelter

Alcoa’s decision to idle two aluminum plants in Washington comes just months after state lawmakers renewed tax breaks for the company.

But language that would have required Alcoa to pay back those tax savings if it laid off workers was not included in the final deal.

Alcoa operates plants near Bellingham and Wenatchee and employs about 1,000 workers. In June, Washington lawmakers extended for another decade a package of tax incentives for the aluminum industry that were set to expire.

Republican State Senator Linda Evans Parlette advocated for the renewal on behalf of Alcoa whose Wenatchee plant is in her district.

“The reason we’re doing it for 10 years is to provide some certainty,” she said. “There’s some work that needs to be done on the plant, investments for infrastructure and they need to know that they have this tax incentive so that they will reinvest in that plant.”

A proposal in the Washington House that Alcoa pay back any tax savings if employment dropped by more than 25 percent was not adopted.

The aluminum industry tax breaks were projected to cost the state nearly $17 million in foregone revenue over the next four years.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."