Austin Jenkins

Olympia Correspondent

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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Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Outgoing Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has a message for the candidates to replace her: “sounds good, doesn’t work.” That’s Gregoire’s take on several of the budget-balancing ideas she’s hearing from fellow Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna.

Northwest News Network

Both candidates for Washington governor have said “no” to higher taxes. But, outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire says she will propose a new source of funding for public schools before she leaves office in January.

Photo Credit: U.S. Government/Wikimedia Commons

In the presidential race, we hear a lot about the electoral map and the math to winning the presidency. It’s all about swing states like Ohio and Florida. At the state level, there’s no electoral college. The candidate with the most votes wins. But there’s still a formula for victory.

Washington Republicans have released documents that show Gov. Chris Gregoire appointed a state senator to a $92,000-a-year job, despite concerns that the senator wasn’t qualified for the position. This is just the latest development in a political drama touched off by the appointment.

Photo by Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Five Washington-based soldiers with Traumatic Brain Injuries have received the Purple Heart. They were honored Monday at a ceremony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. In 2011, the Army issued new standards for awarding Purple Hearts to soldiers with brain injuries. Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports.

Steve Rhodes / Flickr

In this era of mail-in balloting, political campaigns have become a bit like Santa Claus: he may know if you’ve been bad or good, but they know whether you’ve voted yet or not - and who you’re likely to support.

WSDOT / Flickr

There’s a lot of talk these days about tolls to pay for new state highway projects and bridges. Most drivers reluctantly pay up. But some will go miles out of their way to avoid a toll. That can clog local roads. Now one small Washington city is considering a toll of its own.

Christina Salerno / TVW

Ballots are arriving in the mail. And a new poll shows the race for Washington governor is a virtual dead heat. Whoever is elected will inherit a budget shortfall along with a court order to spend more on education.

Oregon Dept. of Corrections

Four years ago we brought you a story about five juvenile killers in Oregon. They received harsher sentences than some adult murderers because of what the state has called a “legal glitch.” Wednesday four of the so-called “Oregon Five” went before the state parole board.

The fifth and final debate between Washington’s candidates for governor was punctuated by personal attacks. Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna met in Seattle Tuesday night. The format encouraged them to engage each other.

Steven Lee / Flickr

The airwaves in Washington are chock-a-block with campaign ads. But one group’s missing from the fray despite its reputation for not pulling any punches. We’re talking about Washington home builders.

Maj. Brent Clemmer

The Army sergeant charged with killing 16 Afghan civilians earlier this year has arrived back in Washington. That confirmation came late Monday from an official at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Ballots are about to go out in Washington. In the race for governor, both candidates are pledging to veto tax hikes. But Republican Rob McKenna and Democrat Jay Inslee also leave themselves some wiggle room.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ballots go out in Washington and Oregon at the end of this week. Last minute money is pouring into the ballot fight over same-sex marriage in Washington. Those dollars are buying television ads on both sides of the issue. So what claims are the campaigns making?

As Election Day nears, the candidates for Washington governor appear to be getting mellower, not feistier. Republican Rob McKenna and Democrat Jay Inslee met Thursday night in their fourth formal debate. Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports the face-off was void of many zingers.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Statewide liquor sales in Washington are up since privatization took effect in June. But business is down dramatically at some former state-owned liquor stores.

KCTS 9 video

The issue of pay raises for public employees is quickly becoming an issue in Washington’s race for governor. There’s much to debate including: a cost of living increase for teachers, a dollar-an-hour pay hike for unionized homecare workers, and an end to a 3 percent pay cut for state workers.

At the last governor’s debate, Republican Rob McKenna attacked Democrat Jay Inslee’s record as a state lawmaker in the early 1990s.

Photo Credit: Washington State Attorney General's Office/Wiki Commons

As the presidential candidates prepare for Wednesday night’s debate, polls show President Obama averages a 15-point advantage in Washington over Republican rival Mitt Romney. Washington’s open race for governor is much closer. The two candidates in that contest met Tuesday night in Yakima for a fiery third debate. But the polls highlight a reality for Republican Rob McKenna: he’ll have to woo a good number of Obama voters if he’s to become Washington’s first G-O-P governor in nearly 30 years.

Photo by Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Nearly nine out of 10 city councils across the Northwest have no Latino members. That estimate comes from a database we assembled of Hispanic officeholders in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. One of the cities with no Latino representations is located in one of the most heavily Hispanic parts of our region. We’re talking about the city of Yakima. The ACLU is suing over the issue. Correspondent Austin Jenkins has our latest story on why the region's largest minority group has so little clout in the political arena.

Campaign photos

Both candidates for Washington governor have pledged to drive more money into education – without raising taxes. But the state faces a $1 billion shortfall in the next two year budget cycle. Plus, a recent Supreme Court ruling requires the state to come up with another $1 billion for schools.

KATU

The candidates for Washington governor will square off in Yakima Tuesday night for their third official debate. Polls give Democrat Jay Inslee a slight lead over Republican Rob McKenna.

Hanford.gov

The U.S. Justice Department will intervene in a timesheet fraud case at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The case began in 2009 as a whistleblower complaint against Hanford contractor CH2M Hill. Since then, eight former workers have pleaded guilty to falsifying their time cards.

WSDOT / Flickr

A staff attorney for Washington state Senate Republicans has agreed to drop his $1.75 million hostile workplace claim, and will receive no damages. The agreement announced Friday follows allegations that Senate leaders failed to protect the lawyer from verbal abuse by Sen. Pam Roach.

Washington Courts

There’s more evidence that a Hispanic last name on the ballot can hurt a candidate’s chances. A statistical analysis released Wednesday reveals patterns of racially polarized voting in a Supreme Court race on Washington’s August primary.

Photo by Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

The Washington Supreme Court could decide by the end of this year whether a voter-approved two-thirds requirement for tax hikes is constitutional. But first, the justices must determine who has the right to challenge the law. That technical question was the focus of oral arguments Tuesday. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins has details.

Washington State Courts website

The fate of Washington’s two-thirds requirement for tax hikes is now in the hands of the state Supreme Court. The justices Tuesday heard oral arguments in a constitutional challenge to the supermajority threshold.

Marques Hunter / Wikipedia

The Washington Department of Corrections will pay $12.5 million to the families of three of the four Lakewood police officers killed by parolee Maurice Clemmons. The settlement announced Friday comes nearly three years after the Thanksgiving weekend shooting at a coffee shop.

Vladimir Steblina / USDA Forest Service

The wildfire situation in central Washington continues to worsen. A complex of lightning-sparked fires north of Ellensburg has grown to more than 30,000 acres. Mandatory evacuations are in place near Liberty, Wash., along Highway 97.

Cacophony / Wikipedia

Does the governor of Washington have the right to keep certain internal documents secret from the public? That question is at the heart of a case heard Thursday in the Washington Supreme Court.

Northwest News Network

Election year tensions erupted at Washington’s latest quarterly revenue forecast. At the center of the partisan flare-up Wednesday was former Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi. He’s been appointed to finish out a vacancy in the Washington senate.

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