Austin Jenkins

Olympia Correspondent

Austin Jenkins, KPLU’s and N3’s Olympia Reporter, has been covering the Washington State Legislature and regional public policy issues since 2004. Prior to becoming a public radio reporter, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise – to name just a few of his stops. Austin grew up in Seattle and is a graduate of Connecticut College. Austin’s memorable moment in public radio: “There are too many to pick just one: Covering Washington’s contested 2004 gubernatorial election, flying in an Army Reserve Chinook helicopter to the top of Mt. Rainier, spending 24-hours on a tug boat on the Snake River, the list goes on.”  You can also track all the current events at Washinton's capitol on Austin's blog, The Washington Ledge.

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Protesting Wall Street
12:00 pm
Fri December 16, 2011

State troopers in riot gear clear Occupy Olympia camp

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Several dozen Washington state troopers in riot gear cleared the Occupy Olympia encampment early Friday. The troopers moved in after several verbal warnings to clear Heritage Park on the Capitol Campus.

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Protesting Wall Street
10:23 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Occupy Olympia activists ignore deadline, take over vacant building

Occupy Olympia activists outside an abandoned building they occupied after marching from Heritage Park.
Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Several campers did fold their tents, but Occupy Olympia activists largely ignored a midnight deadline lastnight to vacate Heritage Park on Washington’s Capitol campus. Instead, they held a rally and then took over an abandoned building across the street.

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Joint Base Lewis-McChord
11:57 am
Tue December 13, 2011

Army won’t say yet if helicopters collided in deadly crash

OH58 Kiowa Warrior.
U.S. Army

THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. – The Army isn’t saying yet whether a mid-air collision caused the crash of two reconnaissance helicopters at a training area on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The accident Monday night killed four Washington-based Army aviators.

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Washington State Legistlature
10:42 am
Fri December 9, 2011

Washington lawmakers aim for some cuts before holidays

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire appears to have given up hope of a balanced budget on her desk by Christmas. Instead, this week her budget director sent lawmakers a shorter wish list to get done before they adjourn for the holidays.

The protesters have gone home. So have many lawmakers.

But majority Democrats in the Washington legislature say they will be back next week with a goal. Cut the $1.4 billion budget shortfall down by, say, $500 million.

The secret list

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Effects of Recession
9:41 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Default ‘trouble’ spreads beyond Washington's ‘river city’

  • An error occurred ingesting this audio file to NPR

For the first time in nearly a decade, a Washington municipality has defaulted on a loan. The Greater Wenatchee Public Facilities District operates Town Toyota Center near the banks of the Columbia River. It missed a major bond payment on December 1st. Now the Washington legislature is debating whether to step in.

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Budget crisis
9:04 am
Tue December 6, 2011

Washington parks face emergency budget cuts

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s state park system is facing an emergency funding crisis. The Parks Commission will meet Tuesday to vote on a plan to immediately cut $11 million from the budget.

The crisis comes as sales of the new Discover Pass lag.

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Business
2:36 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

Businesses get a $350M break from state worker programs

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington businesses will get some unexpected tax relief next year – to the tune of $350 million. Governor Chris Gregoire made the announcement Thursday in Olympia.

“There will be no overall increase in workers’ compensation rates in 2012 and an actual reduction in unemployment insurance rates for all rate classes," Gregoire said.

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Budget crisis
6:00 pm
Tue November 29, 2011

Protesters continue disruptions at Washington Legislature

Washington State Troopers remove members of the “Occupy” movement who disrupted a senate budget hearing in Olympia.
Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – State troopers arrested ten people at the Washington state capitol Tuesday. Four of them after protesters disrupted a Washington legislative committee.

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Budget crisis
3:26 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

Protesters disrupt start to Washington special session

Protesters demonstrate against budget cuts, Monday inside the House chamber at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., on the first day of a special legislative session. ---------------------------------------------------
Ted S. Warren The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Protesters disrupted the start to Washington's 30-day special session. Lawmakers have returned to the Capitol to deal with a $1.4 billion budget shortfall.

Students and others associated with the Occupy movement took over the House and Senate galleries and delayed a budget committee hearing.

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Budget crisis
2:50 pm
Mon November 21, 2011

Gregoire proposes half-cent sales tax increase for Washington

Gov.Chris Gregoire discusses her half-cent sales tax proposal To “buy back” some cuts.
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Republicans call it a bad idea. Advocates on the left say it’s not enough. Those are some of the responses to Washington Governor Chris Gregoire’s proposal Monday to temporarily raise the state sales tax.

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Budget crisis
5:23 pm
Fri November 18, 2011

Cuts and new revenue state budget proposals set for Monday

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire is set to propose a mix of cuts and new revenues to close a $1.4 billion budget shortfall. The Democrat has scheduled a news conference Monday morning.

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Mentally Ill Juveniles
10:37 am
Mon November 14, 2011

Mentally ill juveniles cycle in and out of detention

Every year in the Northwest, thousands of mentally ill teenagers get caught up in the juvenile justice system. In fact, some counties estimate more than half of the kids they place behind bars have a diagnosable mental health condition like schizophrenia, bi-polar or personality disorder. Yet many of these teens do not get the treatment they need. Instead, they cycle in and out of detention.

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Election 2011
2:53 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Washington liquor employees brace for the unemployment line

Control Board clerk Lidia Giusti uses a metal bar to straighten rows of liquor on shelves in Oct. 31 at a new state liquor store in the West Seattle neighborhood of Seattle.
Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The mood in state liquor stores across Washington is subdued. More than nine-hundred state employees face lay-off with the passage of Costco-backed Initiative 1183 .

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Election 2011
10:16 am
Wed November 9, 2011

State control of liquor sales to end in Washington

Washington voters have ended nearly 80 years of state-controlled liquor sales. As of Tuesday night, Initiative 1183 was passing with 60 percent of the vote. The measure privatizes the sale of booze and closes state liquor stores.

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Protesting Wall Street
12:21 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Police make drug arrests at sleepy Occupy Olympia site

The scene at Occupy Olympia.
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Occupy Olympia, part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, has been a rather sleepy affair. That is until this past weekend. That’s when state troopers moved in and made a series of arrests.

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