With recent 4th of July celebrations, Washington state citizens faced a sobering reality amid the festivities. – From diminishing paychecks to growing public safety and retail theft issues summer 2023 has brought new challenges.
One big concern is a noticeable reduction in paychecks. Most of Washington’s working citizens will likely experience this due to the newly implemented long-term care payroll tax. Despite significant resistance from House Republican leaders, this tax was implemented on July 1, associated with the WA Cares Fund. Established by 2019’s House Bill 1087, the Fund intends to support long-term care costs.
The program, however, imposes a payroll tax of $0.58 per $100 of earnings on all Washington state workers. The potential forfeiture of contributions for unused benefits or those retiring out of state has fostered a perception of the program as unfair and unpopular. Despite calls for repeal in the 2023 legislative session, the program continues. Yet, the quest for its reversal remains ongoing.
Another factor facing the state’s residents is escalating gas prices, with the new carbon pricing program significantly contributing to the rise. As businesses are charged for the greenhouse gases they emit, the incurred cost is transferred to consumers. This has led to Washington’s gas prices being among the highest nationwide as of July 17, 2023.
Such price hikes impact individuals and ripple across the broader economy, affecting the costs of goods and services sold through Washington’s retailers and diminishing donations to charitable organizations and food banks.
Equally pressing are the ongoing challenges surrounding public safety and retail theft in Washington. Random acts of violence, such as the recent tragic shooting of a pregnant woman and her husband at a Seattle intersection, highlight the urgent need for policy revision and increased investment in mental health systems.
Current vehicular pursuit policies also remain problematic, excluding law enforcement’s capacity to engage in many serious crimes. The current pursuit law does nothing to prevent stolen vehicle and property crimes. However, there is hope in the recent “Blake fix” bill, aimed at reducing open drug use and related criminal activity. Its efficacy will need to be closely monitored.
Amid these challenges, Washington Retail will continue advocating for our retailers and their valuable workforce. Addressing the rising cost of living and public safety concerns is paramount in ensuring a secure and prosperous future for all.