Woodstock Institute strongly supports creating a safe harbor for employers that are mandated to participate in state-established and administered automatic enrollment payroll deduction retirement savings programs, and we encourage the DOL to expand the safe harbor to employers that voluntarily participate in those programs.
illinois secure choice savings program
A year ago, Illinois became the first state in the nation to pass a law to address that looming retirement crisis. Spurred, in part, by Woodstock Institute research that showed that 2.5 million private-sector workers in Illinois lacked access to any employment-based retirement savings plan, such as a 401(k), the state passed the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program.
Woodstock’s 2012 research report entitled Coming Up Short illustrated that over 2.5 million private-sector workers in Illinois, in every corner of the state, lack access to a retirement savings plan through their place of employment. Most of these workers are in smaller companies and in industries such as retail and food service that pay low wages and offer few, if any, benefits. We know that this situation holds true in the rest of the country, as well.
“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.
Amy Rynell, Senior Director of Research & Policy at Heartland Alliance, accepted Woodstock Institute’s Community Investment Award, stating:
"Without access to easy, convenient tools to build retirement savings more people will experience a reduced quality of life in retirement, putting many at risk of poverty – straining families, communities and the state. Secure Choice will provide many of these workers with the opportunity to save and have a more stable future."
But now, the small-business backbone of the economy is slowly rising to the occasion, often with the assistance of state governments.
Here's one such example from the state of Washington: The Small Business Retirement Marketplace, signed into law last week by Washington Governor Jay Inslee, will provide an estimated 1.5 million residents in the state with access to workplace-based retirement accounts.
When the lobbyist completed his remarks, Biss pulled him aside and asked him for the number of the bill the lobbyist had squelched. “Now, he probably wishes he hadn’t [done that],” Biss said at a recent New America event recounting how the Illinois bill became a law. A revised version of that bill, sponsored by Biss, recently became an Illinois state law set to take effect in June of 2015.