You can’t turn on cable TV news these days and manage to avoid the hyper-partisanship that grips Washington, D.C. In our state, however, we often can work together. We believe in our civic duty to not just our district’s constituents but to every Washingtonian. While we disagree on plenty, there are many things we do agree on. One thing we both know to be true is that it’s our responsibility as state senators to pass legislation that will improve the lives of people in our state.
With that principle in mind, we support ESJR 8212 on the November ballot because it will help secure a promise to hundreds of thousands of our most vulnerable seniors while protecting taxpayers.
Helping seniors to be independent and self-sufficient as long as possible is an important goal for our communities. Last year, the Long Term Care Trust Act was established by the Legislature to help make this goal a reality. Beginning in 2025, the fund will provide benefits to hundreds of thousands of seniors in our state.
ESJR 8212 is a common-sense measure that will help make the fund’s tax dollars stretch further. State law currently limits investment of the trust fund to low return investments, like government bonds and savings certificates. ESJR 8212 will allow the trust fund to be invested in stocks and bonds that can produce higher returns. The investments would be managed by investment professionals with the State Investment Board, which is bound by the highest fiduciary and prudent investment standards. Higher investment earnings mean more money is available for services — that’s good for seniors, their families and the community. And it’s good for taxpayers too, as it decreases the pressure and need for tax increases to finance these benefits.
The kind of investment ESJR 8212 enables is not new. Changes to the state constitution like this one have been approved by voters three times in the past, and taxpayers, retirees, individuals with developmental disabilities, employees and employers have all gained from the higher returns in pension, developmentally disabled, and worker compensation funds. Prudently maximizing investment returns in a fiduciary manner by investment professional just makes sense.
To be frank, we disagreed about the creation of the Long Term Care Trust Act; one of us supported it and one of us didn’t. But we completely agree that, now that the act has been adopted, it should be implemented in the most cost effective way possible, which means giving the Investment Board the tools it needs to invest these funds effectively and avoid the need for increasing the tax rate or reducing future benefits.
It is for these reasons that ESJR 8212 has overwhelmingly bipartisan support across the political spectrum. The legislature — Democrats and Republicans, alike — approved the measure with 97% overall support. And the measure was supported by AARP, League of Women Voters, Senior Citizens’ Lobby and leading business groups. Newspapers throughout the state also have come out and voiced their strong support.
ESJR 8212 is a common sense measure that will make taxpayer dollars go further and help improve the lives of our most vulnerable seniors. Please vote yes on ESJR 8212.