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OLYMPIA, WA-State builders claim lawmakers gave Boeing an unfair tax break, and they’re trying to get voters to correct the measure at the ballot box.

The Building Industry Association of Washington has submitted enough signatures to earn Referendum 53 a space on the November ballot. The measure asks voters to overturn House Bill 2901, which the BIAW says lowered unemployment tax rates for Boeing by $16 million over the next three years, while increasing tax rates on homebuilders and small businesses by $30 million. Homebuilders, however, traditionally cost the state more than they pay in to the system.

“Boeing claims they deserve this tax break because they are paying too much,” BIAW President Dottie Piazza said at the launch of the signature-gathering campaign. “They’re right, they are paying too much. Every employer in Washington State is paying too much,” But the answer is not to single out certain businesses for a special tax break and then increase taxes on other businesses.”

Piazza and the BIAW have long lobbied for reforming the state’s unemployment insurance system.

Joining the BIAW in its fight are the National Federation of Independent Business and other critics. A yes vote on Referendum 53 would uphold the law while its defeat would overturn the new legislation.

For their part, Boeing representatives and other retailers facing a decrease in taxes, claim the new law merely makes the system more equitable.

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