CHICAGO—Woodstock Institute is participating at the 2015 CGI America meeting in Denver, Colorado today to report on its successful CGI America Commitment to Action to advance retirement security with automatic retirement savings accounts in Illinois. Since Woodstock announced its commitment in 2013, Illinois has enacted the Secure Choice savings program to expand access to employment-based retirement savings to an estimated 2.5 million people.
“We’re pleased to share Secure Choice as an important victory for Illinois workers and a model for other states,” said Dory Rand, president of Woodstock Institute.
Woodstock Institute research from 2012 revealed that about 2.5 million private-sector workers in Illinois did not have access to a retirement plan through their employer. Lower-income workers were most impacted: 60 percent of lower-income workers did not have access to a retirement plan, compared to just 49 percent of higher-income workers.
In order to address this need, Woodstock Institute proposed a Commitment to Action at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative America in Chicago to give Illinois workers access to an Automatic Individual Retirement Account (IRA) program. Over the course of 18 months, Woodstock and partners across the state worked to advance the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program. Secure Choice was signed into law in January 2015.
Secure Choice allows Illinois workers to build wealth by providing employment-based access to retirement plans. Workers are automatically enrolled in the program if they work for an employer with 25 or more employees, but can opt out; if they do want to participate, part of their wages are automatically deducted from their paychecks and saved in a Roth IRA account.
State Senator Daniel Biss and State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie championed the proposal, which was supported by Woodstock Institute, Illinois Asset Building Group, the Shriver Center, Heartland Alliance, AARP, SEIU, industry leaders, and business owners from across Illinois.
State legislatures are considering savings programs similar to Secure Choice in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, and other states. News outlets including the New York Times, the Atlantic, and Reuters have cites Secure Choice as a model for ensuring that workers do not retire into poverty.
About Woodstock Institute
Woodstock Institute is a leading nonprofit research and policy organization in the areas of fair lending, wealth creation, and financial systems reform. Woodstock Institute works locally and nationally to create a financial system in which lower-wealth persons and communities of color can safely borrow, save, and build wealth so that they can achieve economic security and community prosperity. Our key tools include: applied research; policy development; coalition building; and technical assistance. Woodstock Institute has been a recognized economic justice leader and bridge-builder between communities and policymakers in this field since it was founded in 1973 near Woodstock, Illinois. Now based in Chicago, we work with community and philanthropic groups, financial institutions, and policymakers.
About CGI America
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Established in June 2011 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) addresses economic recovery in the United States. CGI America brings together leaders in business, government, and civil society to generate and implement commitments to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, foster innovation, and support workforce development in the United States. Since its first meeting, CGI America participants have made more than 400 commitments, which have improved the lives of nearly 1.4 million people.
CGI also convenes an Annual Meeting, which brings together global leaders to take action and create positive social change, CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world, and, this year, CGI will also convene CGI Middle East & Africa, which will bring together leaders across sectors to take action on pressing social, economic, and environmental challenges. For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.