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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."

Paying At The Pump: 12-Cent Hike In Washington Gas Tax Passes


The Washington state Senate Wednesday morning failed to muster a two-thirds vote to suspend a voter-approved class size reduction measure. That could put a $2 billion hole in the freshly passed two-year budget.

But Washington lawmakers did approve a nearly 12 cents per gallon gas tax increase.

These developments capped a marathon overnight session in Olympia as lawmakers meet in a third special session.

House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, said there’s still time left on the clock to resolve the outstanding issues.

“We have 30 days from when were called in so we’ve got about 26 more left,” he said. “But our hope is we can wrap it up in a day. We’re very close, we’re just at the verge then we can finish up.”

Late Tuesday night, Governor Jay Inslee did sign into law the state’s new operating budget. That averted a partial government shutdown starting Wednesday. However, that budget assumes the class size measure is suspended.

A group of Democrats in the Washington Senate have suggested they might agree to suspend the initiative. But in exchange they want Republicans to agree to suspend a biology exam requirement that's keeping some 2000 Washington high school students from graduating.

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."