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Gas Tax or No Gas Tax in Special Session?

Ashley Gross
This image shows the Boeing 777x assembly line in Everett, Wash.

As Washington lawmakers convene in an effort to win production of the next Boeing 777x, there’s already a dispute over whether one of the must-haves is a gas tax package for transportation improvements.

Gov. Jay Inslee insists the time is now, but some lawmakers say road funding can wait.

The governor has outlined a special session agenda that includes a roughly 10-cent gas tax hike to maintain roads and build new ones. He says the issue is a key priority for Boeing as well.

“We need a transportation package in order to secure this aerospace future for the state of Washington,” Inslee said.

In a follow-up interview, Inslee said a gas tax package can’t wait until next year. But Sen. Rodney Tom, a Democrat in charge of a largely-Republican coalition caucus, doesn’t sense the same urgency from Boeing.

“You know, transportation is important, but they understand, due to the complexities of it, that it might have to be a second phase element to this. So that’s the assumption that we’re working under,” said Tom, D-Medina.

Boeing has not commented so far. Either way, the governor’s timeline of a week to hammer out a bipartisan roads-and-transit funding deal will be, in the words of one top House Democrat, “an uphill battle.”

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." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.