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. He regularly files stories for NPR News. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin was a freelance general assignment reporter at KING–TV, the NBC affiliate in Seattle. He also worked as a freelance education reporter for KPLU–FM, the Tacoma–based NPR station. Austin spent 2001 in Washington, D.C. as a Knight Foundation/American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow. Austin has also worked as a television reporter in Portland, Oregon; Boise, Idaho; Casper, Wyoming; and Bozeman, Montana. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and has a B.A. in Government from Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Over the years Austin has won numerous professional awards for his reporting. He lives in Olympia with his wife Jennifer Huntley and their two children.

Read Austin's blog, "The Washington Ledge: Dispatches From Olympia."

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Washington's Revenue Forecast
5:05 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Wash. Revenue Projections Holding Steady

Washington's revenue forecast has seen a slight uptick, but still remains essentially flat.
Visitor 7 Wikimedia Commons

Washington’s economy remains essentially flat. That’s the takeaway from Washington’s quarterly revenue forecast out Wednesday. It shows an increase of about a $150 million through the current two-year budget cycle.

That slight uptick in projected revenues is mostly due to legislative policy decisions this year like fund transfers, not the economy.

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Washington State Damage Claims
6:16 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Wash. Pays Out $60 Million In Damages Over Past 12 Months

Washington State paid out millions in damage claims over the past year.
Tradnor Wikimedia Commons

Washington state paid out nearly $60 million in damage claims during the fiscal year that ends this month. Nearly a third of that went to one man – a motorist who was paralyzed in a traffic accident.

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Washington State Parks Funding
6:15 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Wash. Lawmaker: Discover Pass For State Parks Should Be Temporary

Sales of the new $30 annual Discover Pass have not met early projections.
Washington State Parks

Washington’s new Discover Pass for state parks might end up being a temporary budget fix, rather than a long-term solution. At least that’s the hope of one key statehouse Democrat.

Representative Larry Seaquist remembers well when two of the state parks in his district were on the chopping block. That was a few years ago. So far, Washington has managed to avoid closing parks despite the after-effects of the Great Recession. That’s largely because of the new $30 annual Discover Pass. But sales did not meet early projections. Seaquist says ultimately he doesn’t think charging park-goers is the solution.

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State Parks
6:32 am
Fri June 15, 2012

State Parks Forced To Get Creative, Wired To Survive

An iconic poster promotes a state park.
Photo courtesy Northwest News Network

A wi-fi connection and smart phone bar codes could be coming to a state park near you. Those are just two of the ideas under consideration as Washington State Parks tries to recruit a new generation of visitors. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins explains.

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NW Soldiers Killed
5:16 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Twelve JBLM Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan Since January

Sgt. 1st Class Barett McNabb is the 12th Washington based soldier to die in Afghanistan this year.
Northwest News Network

An Army combat engineer has become the 12th Washington based soldier to die in Afghanistan this year. The pace of deaths has picked up in recent weeks as the summer fighting season begins.

The Army says Sgt. 1st Class Barett McNabb was killed by an improvised explosive device. He was on his fourth deployment, but his first to Afghanistan.

McNabb is just the latest soldier from Washington’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord to die in Afghanistan. May was the deadliest month so far this year with six soldier deaths.

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Northwest News
5:15 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

First Debate May Leave First Impression With Voters

Democrat Jay Inslee (L) and Republican Rob McKenna squared off in the first debate in the Washington governor's race.
Northwest News Network

The campaigns for Washington governor are heading into the dog days of summer now that the candidates survived their first, formal debate. That means a return to fundraising and retail level campaigning.

Polls show Washington’s race for governor is close. According to Real Clear Politics, Republican Rob McKenna averages just a 3.5 point advantage over Democrat Jay Inslee. This week’s debate in Spokane between the two candidates could help Inslee with statewide name recognition. The former Congressman is up against a well known two-term Attorney General. David Nice teaches politics at Washington State University. He says an early debate can also plant a seed with voters.

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Anti-Gay Marriage
6:01 pm
Wed June 6, 2012

Gay Marriage Foes Vow Civil Campaign In Wash.

Workers at Washington’s Secretary of State’s office begin to count R-74 petitions.
Photo credit: Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Opponents of gay marriage in Washington vow to run a civil campaign to repeal the state’s new marriage equality law. Preserve Marriage Washington Wednesday submitted twice the voter signatures it needs to qualify for the November ballot.

The group’s Joseph Backholm says he wants a campaign about issues, not people.

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Referendum 74
5:59 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Pollster: Wash. Could Become First State To Affirm Gay Marriage

Polls indicate a looming vote in Washington over same-sex marriage could be close. Wednesday, the campaign to repeal the state’s new marriage equality law will submit its petitions to the Secretary of State.

Thirty-two times in thirty-two states, voters have said marriage should remain between one man and one woman. The most recent vote was last month in North Carolina. But pollster Matt Barreto at the University of Washington says:

Matt Barreto: “It could be that Washington state is poised to make history on this issue.”

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Liquor Privatization
6:12 am
Tue June 5, 2012

In Costco’s Hometown, Liquor Store Employees Still Have a Job

The shift to private liquor sales in Washington is affecting some 1,200 state employees. But they’re not all out of a job. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins checked in on how workers at one former state liquor store are doing under new system.

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UW Grad and Soldier K.I.A.
4:38 pm
Fri May 25, 2012

UW Grad Is Latest Washington-Based Soldier Killed In Afghanistan

2nd Lt. Travis Morgado was “kind and considerate” says his mother.
Andrea Velasquez Kessler Northwest News Network

The cemetery at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will be the site of a Memorial Day ceremony to honor fallen service members. A University of Washington graduate is the latest Washington-based soldier to die in Afghanistan.

Army records indicate 25 year old Lt. Travis Morgado is the sixth soldier from the Army post near Tacoma killed in action so far this year.

Just before he deployed in March, Lt. Morgado spoke with NPR’s Martin Kaste outside Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He was reacting to news that a fellow soldier, Sgt. Robert Bales, had been accused of murdering 17 Afghan civilians.

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