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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."

Republican Transportation Leader Eyeing 11.5 Cent Gas Tax Increase

Kristen Steele

Gas prices have plummeted, but Washington’s gas tax could soon go up.

Republican Curtis King, the chair of the Senate Transportation committee, is looking at an 11.5-cent per gallon increase phased in over three years. It would help fund a $14 billion transportation package with projects on both sides of the Cascades.

“Let’s make it 11.5 [cents]. That would generate enough money for us to finish the North-South in Spokane, finish the west end of the 520,” King said.

Those are just two examples of high priority projects that would likely get funded by a gas tax increase.

It’s been a decade since the last transportation package passed the Washington legislature. Pressure has been building on lawmakers to fund a new round of projects as well as maintenance and preservation of existing roads.

Democratic Governor Jay Inslee proposed a carbon-emissions charge on industrial emitters instead of another gas tax increase.

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."