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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State Budget Crisis
9:13 pm
Sat December 11, 2010

Lawmakers convene to address budget gap

It was short and bittersweet. Washington lawmakers convened Saturday in a rare, lame duck special session. Their job: take a bite out of the billion dollar hole in the current two-year budget. Lawmakers passed three pieces of legislation. 

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State Budget Crisis
5:17 am
Fri December 10, 2010

Special Session tomorrow to cut state budget

Washington's lawmakers will meet in special session on Saturday to start chopping away at a billion-dollar budget shortfall. The governor and legislative leaders emerged from a closed door meeting yesterday with a budget deal. 

The plan is for a one-day special session. Legislative leaders from both parties and Governor Chris Gregoire have agreed to an immediate round of fresh cuts. The goal is to reduce the current $1.1 billion budget shortfall by about half. 

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State Budget Crisis
9:49 am
Thu December 9, 2010

Governor orders cuts as preschool waitlist soars

The number of poor children on the waitlist for preschool in Washington has tripled over the past three years. And now the problem may get worse. Governor Chris Gregoire’s across-the-board budget reductions threaten to cut more than 100 kids who are already enrolled.

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State Government
8:15 am
Wed December 8, 2010

Auditor zings State Parks in whistleblower investigation

Washington State Parks mismanaged contracts resulting in a “gross waste of public funds.” That’s the conclusion of an investigation prompted by a whistleblower into a project at a state marine park on Puget Sound.

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Lobbyists in Olympia
9:01 am
Tue December 7, 2010

State agency lobbyists in Republican crosshairs

Governor Chris Gregoire says she will call a budget-cutting special session of the legislature before the year is out. As the state’s budget crisis worsens, the governor and lawmakers are looking to save money anywhere they can. One target in the crosshairs: lobbyists for state agencies.

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State Budget Crisis
4:50 pm
Mon December 6, 2010

Gregoire to call special session on budget

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire says she will call a special session of the legislature to address the ballooning budget crisis. The Democrat made the announcement Monday afternoon following a meeting with legislative leaders from both parties. 

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State Budget Crisis
5:08 am
Mon December 6, 2010

Protests to greet state lawmakers as budget cuts loom

Washington lawmakers return to Olympia this week, but not for a special session. They're getting organized for the regular session in January. That will bring out advocates who plan to stage protests over looming budget cuts.

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Impact of War at Home
8:00 am
Fri December 3, 2010

Another tragic homecoming for a 5th Stryker Brigade soldier

Spc. Dustin Knapp returned from Afghanistan, but died on a Wisconsin road under mysterious circumstances. His is another tragic death of a 5th Stryker Brigade soldier following the return home.
Courtesy of Mary Jaskolski.

It was national news when a Washington-based soldier just back from Afghanistan died in a shootout with police in Salt Lake City. That was in August. Around the same time another soldier from the same brigade also died violently. But his death didn’t get much notice. It happened on a dark two-lane road in rural Wisconsin.  

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Honoring the Fallen
8:49 am
Mon November 29, 2010

Lakewood Police murders remembered one year later

In this photo taken a year ago at the memorial for the four fallen Lakewood Police officers, an officer salutes during ceremonies at the Tacoma Dome on Dec. 8, 2009.
AP (Ted Warren)

It was one year ago that four Lakewood police officers were gunned down in a coffee shop. Their assailant was Arkansas parolee Maurice Clemmons who was later shot and killed by a Seattle police officer. Today Governor Chris Gregoire will help dedicate a memorial to the slain officers at Lakewood’s police headquarters. 

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Insurance Laws
10:10 pm
Sun November 28, 2010

Did the 'triple damages' law result in higher premiums?

Three years ago Washington voters upheld the Insurance Fair Conduct Act. It allows triple damages when insurance companies are found to have unfairly denied a claim. At the time, the insurance industry warned premiums would skyrocket and lawyers would get rich. Has that happened? 

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Army Hearings at Joint Base Lewis-McChord
6:22 am
Wed November 24, 2010

Army leadership subject of 5th stryker brigade inquiry

The military court building at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. An Article 32 hearing, similar to a grand jury investigation, is being held inside the building.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

Was there a breakdown of leadership in the 5th Stryker Brigade from Joint Base Lewis-McChord? That question is central to a month-old Army review that’s just now coming to light. It’s the latest development in the case against a dozen soldiers recently back from Afghanistan – including five who’ve been charged with murder.

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Army Hearings at Joint Base Lewis-McChord
7:58 am
Tue November 23, 2010

New developments in Army war crimes case

A pre-trial hearing is scheduled to continue Tuesday morning for one of the five Washington-based Army soldiers charged with war crimes while deployed to Afghanistan. 

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State Budget Crisis
4:31 pm
Fri November 19, 2010

Governor Gregoire cancels union contracts; SEIU responds angrily

The union which represents home health workers in Washington is reacting angrily to a move by Governor Chris Gregoire on Friday to cancel several collective bargaining agreements and ordered state employees back to the negotiating table.

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State Budget Crisis
3:55 pm
Fri November 19, 2010

Budget crisis means closure for McNeil Island prison

McNeil Island prison Is Slated For Closure By April 1st Due To Washington’s Budget Crisis.
Austin Jenkins KPLU

Washington's oldest prison will close by April 1st, a casualty of the state's current budget crisis. McNeil Island Corrections Center's 500 inmates will be moved to other facilities. Some of the 245 employees will be reassigned, while others stand to lose their jobs.

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State Budget
8:29 pm
Thu November 18, 2010

Dire state revenue forecast could force special session

In the coming days, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire will provide lawmakers with a list of budget-cutting options. It’s a first step in what could lead to a special session of the legislature before the year is out.


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