Under Initiative 1163, Washington again becomes one of the few states to certify home-care workers and require them to pass a test. I-1163 led by two-to-one margins in early returns.
I-1163 increases training hours for home-care aides to 75, up from 34, and enhances background checks by requiring national fingerprint checks for new hires. But it adds no new money.
“The voters overwhelmingly said we need to correct and reform the problems in our long-term care system, and they did it in full awareness that the state is in a difficult budget situation,’’ I-1163 spokesman Sandeep Kaushik said.
Cindi Laws, chairwoman of the People Protecting Seniors campaign against I-1163, said her side was outspent heavily. Because I-1163 failed to identify a way to pay for itself, Laws said lawmakers must vote to suspend it or cut education and health programs for the vulnerable.
I-1163 is a virtual repeat of I-1029, which passed with more than 72 percent of the vote in 2008. The Legislature voted twice to suspend its requirements after the global financial crisis in late 2008 lowered state revenues.
Passage of I-1163 means state budget writers must come up with about $18 million in new dollars in the next two years to pay for it, unless they muster a two-thirds super-majority vote to delay or suspend the law again.
Service Employees International Union Healthcare 775 Northwest spent more than $1.6 million to qualify the measure for the ballot and pass it. Laws’ group raised about $135,000.
Training standards have been controversial in Washington. A task force on long-term care fell short of recommending a new hourly minimum for training in January 2008. But more than half of the 15-member task force subgroup on training favored “at least 85 hours.”