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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Politics
8:47 am
Tue January 11, 2011

State senator sworn in amidst controversy

The first day of the Washington Legislature included an intra-party drama on the floor of the state senate. It happened during opening ceremonies Monday when an incumbent Democratic Senator tried to block a new senator from being sworn in. 

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State Ferries
3:59 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

Gregoire: Counties should take over state ferries

It’s sink or swim time for Washington state ferries. That’s the message from Governor Chris Gregoire. The nation’s largest ferry system is under water financially. 

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Education
6:00 am
Thu January 6, 2011

Superintendent fumes over Gregoire’s education plan

Washington voters elected him state superintendent of public schools. Now Governor Chris Gregoire wants to takeover his portfolio. Randy Dorn is fuming over the Governor’s proposal to create a cabinet-level Department of Education.

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2011 Legislative Session
7:45 am
Wed January 5, 2011

Lawmakers face budget blues in 2011 session

Washington lawmakers are singing the blues over the state’s budget woes. The legislature convenes Monday for a 105-day session. Once again, majority Democrats are confronted with a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall.

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State Budget
4:08 pm
Mon January 3, 2011

Lawmaker floats idea of victims’ compensation fund

People enjoy a sunny day outside the Washington state Capitol
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

In the current budget year, the state of Washington is on track to pay 60-million dollars to settle damage and personal injury lawsuits filed against the state. That has some lawmakers alarmed, especially in light of the state’s multi-billion dollar budget crisis. Now, one state representative has an idea for a 9-11 style victims’ compensation fund.

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Government Reform
5:35 am
Thu December 23, 2010

Lawsuit payouts spiking as state budget crumbles

Attorney General Rob Mckenna
John Froschauer AP

The amount of money the state pays out in lawsuits has doubled in the last four years to more than $50 million dollars a year. This spike in legal costs comes as Washington reduces funding for education, healthcare and other state services. But cutting Washington’s legal bills is no easy task.

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"Don't ask, don't tell"
5:00 pm
Mon December 20, 2010

Northwest soldiers have mixed feelings on 'don’t ask, don’t tell'

Northwest soldiers are expressing mixed opinions over the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The U-S Senate voted over the weekend to end the 17-year old policy that allows gays to serve, but not openly. The bill now goes to the President.

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Welfare Cards
2:28 pm
Mon December 20, 2010

Welfare recipients rack up millions in ATM fees

Washington welfare recipients are racking-up hundreds of thousand of dollars in ATM fees at non-Chase machines
Austin Jenkins N3

Welfare dollars are supposed to help the poorest of families pay for the necessities of life. But Washington welfare recipients are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars each month on ATM surcharges. That’s what correspondent Austin Jenkins found through a public disclosure request. The finding comes as Washington’s welfare program faces budget cuts. 

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Clemency Board
9:46 am
Fri December 17, 2010

Ruling goes against release of convicted juvenile killer

Marina owner Paul Wang was murdered by juveniles Barry Massey and Michael Harris In 1987.
Wang family photo.

The state clemency board will recommend that Gov. Chris Gregoire not commute the sentence of a juvenile killer. Barry Massey was just 13 years old when he participated in a brutal murder. The board's 3-2 vote Thursday night reverses a previous clemency board recommendation that he should be let free.

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State Budget Crisis
8:09 am
Thu December 16, 2010

Advocates rail against proposed budget cuts

A hue and cry has erupted in response to Washington Governor Chris Gregoire’s proposal to slash billions more in anticipated state spending. The Democrat Wednesday unveiled her plan to close a $4.6 billion budget shortfall.

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State Budget Crisis
6:16 am
Thu December 16, 2010

Gregoire's budget cuts $4.6 billion, ends funding for state parks and Basic Health

Ten-dollar gate fees at state parks and 100,000 more Washingtonians without health insurance. Those are just two examples of how Governor Christine Gregoire proposes to close a $4.6 billion budget shortfall with her budget released Wednesday.

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Welfare Cards
7:56 am
Wed December 15, 2010

Welfare cards used at out-of-state liquor stores, strip clubs

Portland's Safari Club was one strip club where a welfare debit card was used to withdraw cash.
Chris Lehman N3

Some Washington welfare recipients are withdrawing cash at out-of-state liquor stores, smoke shops and even strip clubs. That’s the finding of a public radio investigation into welfare debit card use outside Washington’s borders. The finding comes at a time when the state’s welfare program is $82 million in the red.

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State Budget Crisis
7:04 am
Wed December 15, 2010

Gregoire would consolidate state agencies, commissions

Governor Chris Gregoire is proposing to consolidate 12 state agencies and in the process eliminate 125 jobs. It’s part of her plan to reduce the size and, what she calls, “complexity” of Washington state government. The state faces  a $4.6 billion gap between anticipated revenues and spending in the next two year budget.

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State Budget Crisis
6:12 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

Pension reform proposals shock some retirees

About 90,000 Washington state retirees have been getting annual cost of living increases during the great recession. Now Governor Chris Gregoire says it’s time to halt to those automatic raises. The proposal is already generating an angry response. 

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State Budget Crisis
9:59 am
Mon December 13, 2010

Lawmakers take bite out of $1.1B shortfall in special session

Lawmakers hope they’ve taken a sizeable bite out of the state’s one-point-one billion dollar budget shortfall. The legislature met Saturday in what’s been called an unprecedented December special session. Governor Chris Gregoire demanded the lame-duck meeting saying she couldn’t solve the problem alone.

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