Serving Franklin County, WA

Opt-out measure looms

For some time now, many Washington workers have been upset about an upcoming payroll tax to fund the new long-term care program called “WA Cares”, created by Democrat majorities in the Legislature in 2019.

That payroll tax finally went into effect July 1.

Unless you applied for and received an exemption from this tax, you’ll see less money in your paycheck.

The payroll tax is currently equal to $58 annually for every $10,000 in pay. The WA Cares program offers a lifetime payout of no more than $36,500, subject to inflation, regardless of how long a worker pays into it – and in many cases, the benefits would be even less.

Legislative Democrats refused to stop this expensive and flawed long-term care program, even after almost 63% of Washington voters late in 2019 opposed Advisory Vote 20, which was on House Bill 1087, the legislation that enabled WA Cares.

Many people in our 9th District have complained to me that they resent being forced to pay a costly tax for a long-term care program that they may not need.

Early this week, four of my Senate Republican colleagues – Senate Republican Leader John Braun of Centralia, 14th District Sen. Curtis King of Yakima, 17th District Sen. Lynda Wilson of Vancouver and 25th District Sen. Chris Gildon of Puyallup – unveiled a proposal for next session that would allow workers to permanently opt out of participation in WA Cares, upon request, which means they would not have to pay into the payroll tax.

There would be no need for proof of other long-term coverage, and depending on when the opt-out happens, a refund of taxes someone paid may be available.

I support this proposal and plan to co-sponsor it when the 2024 legislative session arrives.

— Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, represents the 9th Legislative District, which includes Lincoln, Whitman, southern Spokane, and eastern Adams and Franklin, among other areas. Email him at [email protected].


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