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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."

Gas Tax Package Negotiations Continue In Washington

File photo of the Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia.

A proposed gas tax package is a top priority of Washington Governor Jay Inslee and the Boeing company as it decides where to site the 777X assembly line.

Now that Boeing machinists have rejected a company contract offer, Washington will have to compete with other states to land the 777X.

Inslee says approval of a transportation funding measure is essential to positioning the state well.

“This should sharpen legislators' attention for the need to accomplish a bipartisan transportation package,” said the governor.

Key lawmakers and the governor’s staff continue to meet behind closed doors to try to hammer out a deal. The House and Senate have competing proposals.

Among the issues to resolve: how big should the gas tax increase be? House Democrats proposed 10-cents per gallon last April. The mostly Republican Senate majority has offered up 11.5 cents.

But the Senate has also proposed to route sales tax paid on road projects back into transportation coffers, not the state general fund. Historically Democrats have argued that would take money from schools and social services.

Inslee continues to push for a legislative vote before the end of the year, but lawmakers are sending signals that early next year is more likely.

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."