The problem with living in Washington, D.C., too long is that you start to forget all the exciting action happening outside this politics-crazed town. The truth is, the real action is taking place in state capitols around the country. Today I want to take a moment to highlight some of the victories and innovative solutions happening from Hartford to Olympia to help people save for the future and live independently as they age.
I’m lucky enough to have worked for employers that offer a way to help me save for retirement, like a 401(k), but this isn’t the case for roughly 40 percent of workers. That’s 57 million Americans who have no way to save for their future at work. Having access to a savings plan at work increases savings rates by a whopping 1,300 percent. Luckily, states are stepping up to help by developing a convenient plan to save for retirement, called Work and Save,which benefits both businesses and employees.
Benefits of Work and Save:
- Choice. It’s up to each employee to decide if, and how much, he or she wants to contribute to an account. Plans offer a wide array of investment options for savers – such as equities and mutual funds.
- Easy to save. Employee contributions would be deducted automatically from each paycheck.
- Portability. The account follows employees if they switch jobs so they can continue to save.
- No ongoing cost or risk for the state. Work and Save plans are intended to be self-sustaining, and will be 100 percent participant funded after initial start-up costs. A Work and Save plan is not a public pension, and the funds cannot add to the state’s pension liability.
- Benefits businesses. Work and Save is an easy way for businesses to offer their employees a retirement fund and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.
Seven states have already made progress towards advancing Work and Save plans this year - and giving their residents a way to retire with confidence.
Maryland: A week ago, Gov Martin O’Malley signed an executive order creating the Governor’s Task Force to Ensure Retirement Security for All Marylanders. This task force will look at how Maryland can improve retirement security for its residents.
“I understand that a lot of people across Maryland feel anxious about their retirement, and we are taking action to help,” O’Malley said.
Connecticut: In the last 12 minutes of the legislative session, Connecticut became the first state to self-fund a study on Work and Save legislation.
Minnesota: Following in Connecticut’s footsteps, Minnesota set money for a study aside as part of the Women’s Economic Security Act.
Utah: An interim study in the coming months will look at retirement security in Utah.
Washington: A study and work session on retirement saving and a Work and Save plan was just completed in Washington state.
Colorado: Legislation to conduct a study has passed the Colorado House this session.
We’re continuing to fight to make Work and Save a reality in these states and more. Follow me on Twitter @RoamTheDomes for more news on advocacy across the country. And to stay up to date on our AARP advocacy in the states, sign up for the AARP Advocates e-newsletter or visit your state Web page.