23 state senators ask Inslee to suspend incoming long-term care tax

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A group of 23 state senators — including two moderate Democrats — formally asked Gov. Jay Inslee to use emergency powers to suspend an incoming .58 percent payroll tax aimed at funding long-term care.

In a joint letter, the senators — including Centralia’s John Braun, the Senate’s top Republican — urged the governor to intervene to “provide temporary relief to employees who face a major new tax and give time for the Legislature to work on a solution.”

The tax, passed in 2019, has been lambasted by Republicans, who say the maximum lifetime benefit — $36,500 — isn’t enough, and isn’t portable across state lines. Washingtonians face a Nov. 1 deadline to acquire private insurance in order to be exempt from the program.

“However well-intentioned the long-term care act may be, it has serious issues that can be addressed only by the Legislature — and should be addressed before workers begin seeing money taken from their paychecks,” La Center Sen. Ann Rivers said in a news release. “The number-one concern is that the law allows current workers just one chance in their lifetime to exempt themselves from the new tax, yet many are unable to exercise that choice at the moment, through no fault of their own.”

Rivers said pausing the implementation of the tax is “the equitable thing to do,” adding that “I can think of no better use of the governor’s emergency powers.”

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