FILE - long term care

Elderly man in nursing home, looking outside window.

(The Center Square) – After a floor debate Wednesday, the Washington state House passed a bill aimed at “Delaying the implementation of the long-term services and supports trust program by 18 months,” according to the official description.

The majority for the delay of the WA Cares program was overwhelming: 91 yeas vs. 6 nays.

The six nays on House Bill 1732 came from Republicans who did not believe the bill went far enough: Reps. Jim Walsh, Rob Chase, Larry Hoff, Bob McCaslin, Joel McEntire, and Jeremie Dufault.

An amendment to require voter approval was not allowed to be voted on.

House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, a Republican who did vote for the delay, nevertheless vented about the range of options on the table on Twitter.

“House votes to delay implementation of LT payroll tax,” Wilcox wrote. “Not a vote of confidence in the bill. But perhaps a wiser Legislature in 2023 will replace it with the voluntary, private sector option.”

Democratic House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan said that he voted for the pause “to ensure that the program is as effective and efficient as we can make it, so that we can guarantee those benefits to our residents throughout the state,” the Associated Press reported.

The bill is also expected to be passed by the Senate and then go to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk within a few weeks.

The state will not collect the controversial tax in the meantime.

In mid-December, Inslee and legislative leaders announced that they would be delaying the tax collection for a short time, giving the legislature time to formally delay the program.

Inslee sowed further confusion with his subsequent announcement that the state government would go ahead and collect the tax from its employees in case the legislature did not pass a delay in the new session.

Staff Reporter

Brett Davis reports on Washington state government for The Center Square. He previously worked for public policy organizations the Freedom Foundation and Washington Farm Bureau, as well as various community newspapers.

Regional Editor

Jeremy Lott is a regional editor at The Center Square overseeing the Pacific Northwest. Lott previously worked as an editor for a number of publications and founded three of the Real Clear Politics family of websites.