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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."

Columbia River Crossing Funding Hinges On Washington Special Session

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Columbia River Crossing

When Washington lawmakers return to Olympia in two weeks for a special session, Governor Jay Inslee is demanding they approve funding for the new Columbia River Crossing. The Democrat wants that funding included in a broader gas tax measure. But the governor faces opposition from the state senate - especially one powerful southwest Washington Republican: Senator Don Benton.

Basically the Senate has said if a gas tax package moves this year it’s not going to have money in there for the CRC because there is so much opposition within the Senate Republican caucus or the Senate Majority Coalition caucus to the current design and the current project. And Senator Benton has said no way is it going to happen.

Washington lawmakers did approve a base transportation budget before adjourning their regular session. That includes about $80 million for ongoing design and planning of the Columbia River Crossing. But Senator Benton inserted an amendment that restricts most of the money from being spent until the Coast Guard approves or rejects the design.

On the Web:

Columbia River Crossing - official site
SB 5024: Transportation appropriations - Washington Legislature 

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."