“This bill provides across-the-board help for our state’s economy and families,” said Senator Murray. “It includes Medicaid assistance to help reduce the state budget deficit, provides a safety net for those struggling to get back to work, helps more families afford health insurance, incentivizes businesses to grow and hire and gives Washington taxpayers the fairness they deserve.
“Our focus must continue to be on getting our state’s economy strong enough to grow and create jobs. This bill contains tax cuts for businesses and middle class families to help make that happen.”
Specifically, the bill provides Washington state with:
· An extension of federal unemployment insurance to assist the over 260,000 Washington state residents currently receiving unemployment, or those who will apply in the future, through December 31st2010. · An extension of a provision the increased the weekly unemployment benefits by an additional $25 per week through the December 31, 2010.
· A provisions that allows those who have lost their jobs to continue to get significant federal assistance to afford COBRA health insurance.
· A $500 million payment to help the state afford the rising cost of providing Medicaid that has come with increased enrollment, rising unemployment and lower tax receipts – a federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) payment.
· The ability for Washington families to continue to deduct state sales tax on their federal tax returns for the upcoming tax year (2010) – a tax cut that restores tax fairness and puts money directly into the pockets of middle-class families.
· A seven month fix that will block a 21 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursement payments to Washington state doctors – a cut that would limit access to Medicare for Washington seniors.
A companion bill has already been passed by the House of Representatives. The two bills will now be reconciled and will then be sent to the President for his signature.