Billion-dollar payroll tax a bad deal for Washington, Ericksen says

  • Plucks $1 billion a year out of economy, people’s pockets
  • Provides meager long-term care benefit
  • Democrats reject proposal for public vote

OLYMPIA – A proposed billion-dollar payroll tax is a bad deal for the people of Washington, says Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale.

The new tax would fund a new state-managed long-term care insurance program. It was approved by the Senate Tuesday following lengthy debate on the proposal. House Bill 1087 now returns to the state House for concurrence on amendments.

“This bill offers a false promise,” Ericksen said. “At best this would provide a $36,000 lifetime benefit. But anyone with a relative in a nursing home will understand $36,000 doesn’t go very far. At best this billion-dollar tax would provide a few months of care – and at an enormous cost.”

The measure would impose a 0.58 percent payroll tax that would be deducted from employee paychecks. During debate in the Senate, majority Democrats rejected an amendment that would have placed the proposal on the November ballot and allowed the people of Washington to decide.

“It is unfortunate that the people will get no say in this matter, because if they are asked, I am sure they would say no,” Ericksen said. “They would ask tough questions the Legislature has been doing its best to avoid. Is this a good return on investment? How much of this would be swallowed up by state-agency overhead costs? The bill’s advocates can’t or won’t tell us.

“The cost of long-term care is a real problem. But this won’t solve it. Nor have we seen large numbers of people in Olympia demanding that we tax them more to pay for it. One billion dollars is a lot of money, even by the standards of Washington, D.C. and Washington state. We shouldn’t force this enormous tax on the people of Washington state when we have no reason to believe they want it.”