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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."

Washington Senate To Wait And See On Gas Tax Package

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Transportation leaders in the Washington Senate have proposed what they call a “barebones” roads, ferries and transit budget for the next two years. The spending plan rolled out Wednesday in Olympia includes no new sources of funding for highway projects.

Republican Curtis King co-chairs the Senate Transportation committee. At a press conference, he acknowledged there’s a lot of pressure for a gas tax package this year.

“Yes, there are a litany of people lined up, but there’s one other element that we have to consider and that’s the people of the State of Washington are going to have to pay.”

King doesn’t think the timing is right to ask voters to support a gas tax increase. But Democratic co-chair Tracey Eide notes a broad coalition of business, labor and other interests -- along with the governor -- are on board with the idea.

“I’ve never seen it before so I’m hoping that we can move forward because it’s vital to our economy,” says Eide.

Both Senators say if the Washington House sends them a funding package they’ll take a look at it. Earlier this year the Democratic House Transportation chair proposed a 10-cent gas tax increase over five years to help fund new road projects throughout the state.

On the Web:

Washington Senate 2013-15 Transportation Budget Proposals - Washington Legislature
Gasoline tax rates by state - Tax Foundation

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."