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Inslee’s Optimism May Not Be Enough For Gas Tax Package

Gov.  Jay Inslee says he will continue to push for a gas tax package in the 60-day session that starts Monday. But a key transportation leader in the State Senate signaled last Thursday that prospects for a deal may be dimming.

Nearly a decade has passed since the last gas tax increase passed in Washington. Now leaders on both sides of the aisle agree another multi-billion dollar roads and transit package is needed.

But the details are the topic of heated debate in the state Capitol. A dozen negotiating sessions this fall ended with promises to resume talks this month.

Sen. Curtis King, who co-chairs the Senate Transportation Committee said the work will continue, but “it’s like everything else.”

“It’s a matter of timing, and there are a lot of things that would impact the ability to get a package out this session,” said King, R-Yakima.

Among things to consider is the fact this is an election year. There are also concerns about voter trust given ongoing problems with two Seattle-area mega projects: cost overruns on the 520 bridge replacement and a blockage that’s stopped progress on the tunnel along Seattle’s waterfront.

For his part, the governor says he still has reasons to remain “hopeful.” 

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.
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