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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I'd like to thank all the 10th District residents who recently attended the virtual town hall event I co-hosted with Senator Ron Muzzall, R-Whidbey Island, and Representative Dave Paul, D-Oak Harbor, regarding ferry service in our region. The government relations director for the Washington State Ferries (WSF), John Vezina, also joined us. John heard directly from residents about their frustrations with ferry service disruptions and answered several questions.

If you were unable to attend the meeting, you can watch the video on Senator Muzzall's legislative Facebook page by clicking here.

As many of you already know, reduced service schedules have caused problems for thousands of ferry customers in our district. Last-minute sailing cancellations are also a problem. While there has been talk about electrifying the ferry system, WSF must first put money into building adequate service.

At a minimum, WSF service should reliable and on time. A recent WSF weekly update stated that improving service is “heavily dependent on hiring new employees.” Although WSF has been working on employee recruitment and outreach efforts, more needs to be done. Please be assured that until ferry service is fully operational, I will be in contact with WSF about our region's ongoing concerns and frustrations with their work.

WA Cares Fund | The new long-term care payroll tax

In 2019, the long-term care bill (House Bill 1087) appeared on the ballot as an advisory vote; 63% of voters rejected the non-binding question concerning whether to maintain or reject the program. Despite being rejected by voters, the majority party has moved forward with implementing the new WA Cares Fund and its accompanying payroll tax. Starting Jan. 1, 2022, unless you were able to secure a qualified, private long-term care insurance policy, a tax of $0.58 per $100 will hit your paycheck.

The WA Cares Fund is the state's attempt to get into the insurance business. Although proponents continue to push the illusion that the program will meet Washingtonians' long-term care needs, the truth is quite the opposite. Compared to private insurance and/or investments, the benefits are abysmal. The non-transferable, maximum lifetime benefit is only $36,500, and it makes no allowances for out-of-state workers. That means Washington workers who live in other states will be forced to pay the state payroll tax but are not eligible for the program's benefits.

Workers can opt-out, but only if they secured a qualified, private long-term care insurance policy by Nov. 1, 2021. From there, they must apply for an exemption. More than a quarter-million workers have applied to opt-out. However, thousands more have had trouble finding a policy in time or were unaware of the new mandate altogether. 

As I shared in a previous update, I believe that long-term care insurance should be in the hands of private providers, not state government. The state-managed plan is already looking at large potential cost overruns that will mean even higher taxes in the future. WA Cares Fund Director Ben Veghte has recently stated that the program's needs have far exceeded expectations. Among other things, state agencies are seeking more money for actuarial work, outreach, and customer care.

The Seattle Times editorial board recently did an excellent job highlighting the flaws with the state's new long-term care insurance program. They also called on the governor to suspend the payroll tax and/or extend the deadline for exemptions.

Stay tuned. In the upcoming session, I'll be co-sponsoring legislation to repeal this new payroll tax. The legislation would make the payroll tax an opt-in only and ensure that those who pay into the program are guaranteed a benefit, regardless of where they live or if they move out of Washington state. In the meantime, if you have questions about the WA Cares Fund and its accompanying long-term care payroll tax, you can learn more here:

Getting ready for a new year | The 2022 session

The upcoming 2022 legislative session begins on Jan. 10 and will last 60 days. To prepare, for the past several months, I've been meeting with constituents, attending committee meetings, and talking to stakeholders. During that time, I've received countless calls and emails from people in our region asking how they can help.

It's exciting to hear from people looking to get involved and stay informed about the work of the Legislature. Here's why: Citizen advocacy not only influences the passage of legislation, it keeps government accountable.

If you are interested in learning how to be a citizen advocate, here are some resources that can help get you started:

  • Learn about the process online at the Legislative Overview page;
  • Read about How a Bill Becomes a Law, and How to Read a Bill;
  • Use the member rosters to get legislative contact information to send emails, or write letters;
  • Call the toll-free Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 to leave a message on any issue;
  • Make your views known by testifying before a committee on an issue or bill;
  • Watch and listen to committee hearings live on TVW;
  • Need more information on how the Legislature works? Call the Legislative Information Center at (360) 786-7573.

Other information

  • Visit my website | Rep. Greg Gilday
  • Sign-up for The Current | The Washington State House Republicans newsletter
  • Sign-up for The Capitol Buzz | A daily summary of online news from across the state, highlighting policies, politics, and other issues that affect Washingtonians
  • Bookmark The Ledger | A Washington State House Republicans news aggregator

Stay in touch!

Because of certain state restrictions, I will not be sending another email update until the second week of January. If you have questions or concerns about state government-related matters, please contact my office. I'm always happy to help.

Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve and represent you and the 10th Legislative District. I hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

In your service,

Greg Gilday

State Representative Greg Gilday, 10th Legislative District
404 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 939-1211 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000