This morning, Cary Condotta, former Washington State Representative, and Co-Founder of Restore Washington, joined CEOtoCEO to share a timely update on the Washington Cares Act, and Initiative 1436.
The Washington Cares Act is set to be implemented on January 1, 2022 and Initiative 1436 has a deadline of December 31 to gather the proper signatures to qualify for submission.
Cary discussed the initiative process in Washington State provided by the constitution. Initiative 1436 is an initiative to the Legislature that seeks to make the Long Term Care Tax voluntary, or opt-in, only.
For initiatives to the Legislature, signatures are collected between July and December 31. If 400,000 signatures are collected, and it qualifies, the initiative goes to the Legislature with required hearings in the House and Senate. If Initiative 1436 qualifies, Restore Washington will testify on behalf of the initiative.
Restore Washington is actively building a network of people, and businesses, across the state to collect signatures and host petition signings. Although successful, they need many more people and businesses to get involved. There is an urgency to get additional signatures and petitions returned as the clock ticks down to the December 31 deadline.
According to Cary, the biggest challenge Restore Washington has to overcome is that the Initiative process doesn't work. People have lost faith. That no matter what is done during the initiative process, that it'll be overturned or shot down. To improve the opportunities for initiatives to pass, Restore Washington keeps them singularly focused, constitutional, and simple.
Cary provided a summary of the Washington Cares Act, legislation that passed a few years ago, but is being implemented now. This "under the radar" legislation is an insurance program, where folks pay in and receive a benefit in the future. The Cares Act features a high tax, with low benefits. This mandatory payroll tax is rife with issues. The tax rate is $.58 of every $100 earned, with no income cap. The program cannot pay for itself, and the tax will need to be increased to make it viable. There is no portability, if you leave the state, you lose all of the benefit and the maximum benefit is $36,000 towards long term care costs. A sum which won't go far today, or in the future.
Restore Washington believes that people should have a choice with the WA Cares Act, making it voluntary, giving people the option to "opt-out". Believing that some folks might want to participate, Initiative was written to give people a choice. The initiative is a non-partisan issue, getting support statewide.
Restore Washington looks to get Initiative 1436 to the Legislature with the qualifying signatures, and expects 1436 to be pushed to the ballot. It is possible, that if enough signatures are collected, Restore Washington can get an injunction to stop the tax entirely in January.
There are circumstances where, if a ballot measure was approved, the entire program was put on hold until it could be put up for a vote on the ballot. Cary stated that the goal is to secure an injunction to stop the program, instead of folks paying into it for 11 months prior to it going up for a vote.
Restore Washington, with assistance from businesses in Bellevue, are working hard to get the word out about Initiative 1436, and collect signatures. As the clock ticks down towards the December 31 deadline, they need people and businesses to get involved NOW.
The Restore Washington website (www.restorewashington.org) includes information on how businesses can sign up to be a petition signing location, and a map showing where existing locations are to sign Initiative 1436. It also includes a link to order, or download and print Initiative 1436 Petitions at "www.yeson1436.com".
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