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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 Still Alive As Washington Lawmakers Hit Homestretch

FIle photo of highway construction on Interstate 5 in Tacoma, Washington.

The push to raise the gas tax by nearly 12 cents per gallon gas is still alive in the Washington legislature. But time is running out.

Lawmakers are supposed to adjourn in just over two weeks.

House Democrats Monday unveiled a counter offer to the roads and transit package Senate Republicans approved in early March. The House Transportation Committee chair, Democrat Judy Clibborn, said a gas tax package is worth going into overtime.

“I think we would go into extra session,” she said. “I think the governor wants a package, I think that my leadership has said that they want a package, we’re going to be ready. That’s why I want to get to the [negotiating] table.”

The House and Senate both proposed a 16-year, $15 billion roads and transit package that would raise the state gas tax 11.7 cents over three years. But the differences are in the details.

One major sticking point is whether state sales tax paid on road projects should continue to go into Washington’s general fund or be redirected back into transportation.

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."