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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."

Inslee's Optimism May Not Be Enough For Gas Tax Package

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
Governor Jay Inslee speaks at a legislative preview forum in Olympia hosted by the Associated Press.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says he will continue to push for a gas tax package in the 60-day session that starts Monday. But a key transportation leader in the State Senate signaled Thursday that prospects for a deal may be dimming.

It’s been nearly a decade since the last gas tax increase passed in Washington. Now leaders on both sides of the aisle agree another multi-billion dollar roads and transit package is needed. But the details are the topic of heated debate in the state capitol. A dozen negotiating sessions this fall ended with promises to resume talks this month.

Senate transportation co-chair Curtis King, a Republican, says the work will continue but “It’s like everything else it’s a matter of timing and there are a lot of things that would impact the ability to get a package out this session.”

Including the fact this is an election year.

There are also concerns about voter trust given ongoing problems with two Seattle area mega projects: cost overruns on the 520 bridge replacement and a blockage that’s stopped progress on the tunnel along Seattle’s waterfront.

For his part, Governor Inslee says he still has reasons to remain “hopeful.”

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."