Rep. Jim Walsh advocates for change: Initiative 2124 challenges insolvency of ‘WA Cares’ long-term care payroll tax

The Washington Secretary of State (SOS) has informed the Legislature that the signature verification and certification for Initiative 2124 have been completed successfully. This marks the first instance in state history where six initiatives to the Legislature have been certified in the same year. Initiative 2124 enables working individuals to choose not to participate in the state’s financially troubled Washington Cares Fund, a long-term care (LTC) payroll tax program.

Rep. Jim WalshR-Aberdeen, sponsor and author of all six of the initiatives, released the following statement regarding I-2124’s introduction to the Legislature:

“The fact that six initiatives have been introduced in a single year point to the urgency the people of Washington feel toward fixing what’s broken in our state. The people are demanding change from Olympia.

“I-2124 allows working people to opt out of the state’s insolvent ‘WA Cares’ long-term care benefit payroll tax scheme. For a short time, people could opt out of the scheme under certain circumstances. But now, under current state law, working people must pay into the program in the form of money taken out of their paychecks.

“As has been widely reported, the WA Cares offers a limited benefit of little practical value to the people forced to pay for it. Making matters worse, the program is insolvent — and will likely have to increase the amount of money taken out of people’s paychecks in order to stay afloat. This is a terrible deal that’s being forced on people — too many of whom will collect no benefit from the scheme.

“I-2124 simply lets people opt out if they choose. It defends consumer choice. And encourages transparency in state programs. Partisans trying desperately to defend the policy argue that the opt-out option will make this bad program’s problems worse. Supporters of I-2124 argue that protecting consumer choice will force WA Cares to either improve the value it offers participants or admit that private long-term care insurance is a better deal.

“I-2124 is a good reform to a troubled state program. It puts working people and their families ahead of political agendas. It gives consumers a choice. And it also gives the insolvent WA Cares program a needed reality check. I ask my colleagues in Olympia to give I-2124 hearings and floor votes as soon as possible. The people of Washington are demanding that. The Legislature needs to stand with people on I-2124 and the rest of the current group of initiatives.”

In addition to I-2124, the SOS has certified five additional initiatives: I-2111, codifying Washington state’s longstanding tradition of prohibiting an income tax; I-2109, repealing the capital gains income tax; I-2117, targeting the repeal of the Climate Commitment Act (CCA), I-2113, seeking to restore the authority of police officers to pursue when there is reasonable suspicion of a law violation; and I-2081, a parents’ bill of rights.

The 60-day 2024 legislative session began on Monday, Jan. 8, and will conclude on March 7.


Washington State House Republican Communications