State Senator: Only Gov. Inslee ‘has the power’ to pause Washington’s long-term care tax

Oct 1, 2021, 9:09 AM
forced vaccination, olympia, long-term care tax...
In this aerial view from a drone, the Washington State Capitol is seen on January 17, 2021 in Olympia, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

A number of Washington state Senators are calling on Governor Jay Inslee to use his power to pause the upcoming long-term care tax.

Bipartisan group of state lawmakers ask Inslee to pause long-term care insurance tax

Washington state’s recently passed long-term care tax will take 0.58 out of your paycheck, with no cap, as KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson explained. If you make $100,000, you pay 580 bucks a year. You get about $36,000 of a benefit IF you retire in Washington. And while that $36,000 can get you about six months of care in a facility today, it could be less than that in the future.

“What we’re calling on [Inslee] to do is what he’s been practicing for the past 500 and some plus days,” Senator Jeff Wilson said. “And this is to exercise his given emergency powers to push the pause button on this horrific, dead-end, rabbit hole kind of a program.”

“He, and only he, has the power to do this,” Wilson added. “Essentially, we’re asking the governor to consider this. With great power comes great responsibility. We’re asking him to invoke his powers and to give us that relief that we need. Obviously, the Legislature can’t do it, so truly, he’s the only person that can provide this relief we’re seeking.”

Under the new tax, if someone is 25 years old, works until they’re 60 in Washington state, and pays into this tax every year, they could pay $30-40,000, but if they retire in another state, they don’t get any of the benefit. If someone lives in Coeur d’Alene or Portland and works in Spokane or Vancouver, they would pay the tax and not even be eligible for any benefit.

Wilson agrees with Dori that this is not a good tax and says they saw the writing on the wall before it was passed.

“It wasn’t passed necessarily per se on complete party lines. There was an across the aisle member or two that supported to not go down with this crazy, this one way in, no way out, kind of an employee payroll tax that was painted to have some kind of benefit,” Wilson said. “As you pointed out, where’s the benefit of this and the fairness? Especially because you don’t have a choice, you have a very strict timeline.”

“It’s kind of do or die, without the vote of the people, you’re going to be stuck with this,” he added.

If Gov. Inslee does not act, and if you have not opted out of the tax by purchasing your own private insurance, you will start seeing money come out of your paycheck for this tax in January.

“The origin of this program is why is Washington state trying to blaze a new trail?,” Wilson asked. “No other United States state has gone down this path. This is a program borrowed from Europe, mainly Germany, and we didn’t vet it properly.”

“One of the other insults to everybody here in this state is starting [Oct. 1], this is the famous, ‘well, you get between October 1 and October 31, you can opt out.’ But you can’t opt out. It’s a trick and a trap because there’s no way out,” Wilson said. “There’s no way to get the coverage and get it presented and vetted through Employment Security Department in time. And this is a lifetime matter.”

I’m grateful you and your family are discussing this,” he continued. “I wish that all the other dads and moms out there would be discussing it with their children because, quite frankly, I don’t believe that people know the impacts of this and the dangers to this, what’s coming.”

Former state lawmaker says Washington’s long-term care tax should be optional

At this point, Wilson says the state Senate is pleading with the governor to do the right thing.

“We’re out of time. It’s up to the governor,” he said. “We asked him, again, to use that power, use it responsibly. He has it. He’s been invoking it for the past year and a half. Come on, do the right thing on behalf of all Washingtonians, and everybody’s sons and daughters for the future.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dori Monson on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dori monsonTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.

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State Senator: Only Gov. Inslee ‘has the power’ to pause Washington’s long-term care tax