The proposed Initiative 1436, which sought to challenge the state’s fledging long-term care program, fell short of the number of signatures it needed to qualify for the November 2022 statewide ballot Thursday.

The petition sought to challenge the payroll tax associated with the WA Cares Fund, a first-in-nation public insurance program intended to help older residents pay for long-term care without having to turn to their savings.

The plan, which was passed in 2019, intends to use a 0.58% payroll tax to pay up to a $36,500 benefit for individuals to pay for home health care and an array of services related to long-term health care, including equipment, transportation and meal assistance.

I-1436, if it had been passed by the Legislature or next November by voters, would have allowed residents to opt out of the program’s payroll tax and benefits at any time, a move that could have gutted the program and limited its ability to pay benefits.

The move sets Democratic lawmakers up for an easier path to making adjustments to the program now that an existential threat to the program no longer looms.

The program has faced fierce criticism and resistance, prompting conservative activists to collect signatures for I-1436.


A news release from the I-1436 Coalition on Thursday stated that the campaign had gathered nearly 200,000 names by mid-December but momentum in the final weeks was lost when Gov. Jay Inslee ordered employers and the state Employment Security Department to delay collecting premiums while lawmakers addressed issues in the program.

Much of the criticism around the long-term care program has centered on the people who will pay into the fund and never see any benefits. That includes about 150,000 people who work in Washington but live in another state, those who will retire within 10 years and may not be working long enough to become vested and eligible, and people who work in Washington but may ultimately retire in another state.

The payroll tax was originally scheduled to start January 2022, until Inslee and Washington Democratic leaders announced an agreement Dec. 17 to delay implementation and address the program’s shortcomings when the legislative session starts next month.

The I-1436 Coalition said Inslee’s announcement “dramatically reduced the flow of signatures and led to confusion as voters believed the issue had been settled.”

To qualify, the I-1436 campaign needed to gather and submit 325,000 valid signatures to the Washington Secretary of State’s Office by Friday. Then, lawmakers could have approved or put the issue to the voters in November 2022 by denying or amending the initiative.

“If the Governor or legislature renege on their promise and reimpose the controversial payroll tax, the I-1436 campaign, now with a firm foundation of hundreds of thousands of supporters, stands ready to strike it down at the ballot box. We will be watching closely,” the coalition said in a statement Thursday.


Due to a few six- and five-figure donors, the I-1436 campaign raised more than $600,000, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission. 

According to Federal Election Commission records, the top donors — Brian Heywood of Redmond, George Rowley of Issaquah, and Beatriz and Edmund Schweitzer of Pullman — have histories of donating to Washington and national Republican groups. 

Since 2000, Heywood, Rowley and the Schweitzers have each respectively totaled at least $78,000, $152,000 and $1.9 million in donations to the Washington State Republican Party, the National Republican Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to FEC data. 

Kemper Holdings, another major donor toward I-1436, has donated $35,000 to the Washington State Republican Party.