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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A new proposal to temporarily raise the state retail sales tax by 0.3 cents has been officially introduced passed the House Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee. It dedicates revenue from the tax to essential health care investments and funds the Working Families Tax Rebate.

The Subcommittee amended the proposed appropriations by decreasing the amount spent on the Working Families Tax Rebate and shifting that funding to the Basic Health Plan, community mental health services, and the addition of vision and hearing services.

The $484 million appropriated in the bill is divided as follows:
  • $105 $69 million for the Working Families Tax Rebate, which refunds a portion of the state sales tax to lower income working households.
  • $167 $187 million for the Basic Health Plan, a program that provides affordable health insurance to lower income Washingtonians.
  • $77 million for long-term care and nursing homes, including adult day health programs.
  • $75 million to provide funding for hospitals.
  • $24 $28 million for community mental health services.
  • $13 million for children's health.
  • $19 million for Healthy Options, a managed-care health program.
  • $10 million for core public health services.
  • NEW - $5 million for vision and hearing services

*Appropriations are only made for the 2009-11 biennium, but the temporary sales tax increase is scheduled through December 2012.

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