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Transportation Funding Fight Looms In Washington Legislature

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The Washington legislature convenes next Monday for a 105-day session. Transportation funding is one of the top agenda items.

Lawmakers failed to move a roads and transit package last year and pressure continues to build for the legislature to act. But there are also sharp partisan differences.

One of the big roadblocks and sticking points has been that Republicans want to take some of the sales tax revenue we charge for transportation projects and put that back into transportation.

That’s been basically a non-starter with Democrats who say, "You’re robbing Peter to pay Paul; that money should go into the state general fund," as it has traditionally and historically to fund schools, corrections, social services.

It’s been a decade since Washington lawmakers last raised the gas tax. That 9.5-cent increase was challenged at the ballot, but survived.

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.