Board Member David Walker Comments on Legislation Aimed at State-Sponsored Savings Plans

Let states help people save for retirement.

It’s the idea behind the long-running, AARP-supported drive to establish retirement savings plans for the 55 million private-sector workers in America who don’t have access to a workplace savings program. The idea was the brainchild of current AARP senior strategic policy adviser David John and Mark Iwry, a former senior fellow at the Brookings Institute.

About 10 years ago, David and Mark created a campaign that sought to give workers — often low-income and employees of small businesses — a little nudge to save by pushing automatic savings into a simple payroll deduction IRA. That is, unless the employee chose to opt out.

A 2017 AARP study titled “Access to Workplace Retirement Plans by Race and Ethnicity” and other studies showed that workers are 15 times more likely to save if they have a savings deduction plan at work.

Auto-IRA was first considered in Congress, with the Automatic IRA Act of 2007, but the legislation did not move ahead. However, many states, with powerful backing from AARP, moved to fill the gap with their own versions.

Current AARP Board member and former U.S. comptroller general David Walker is still very passionate about this push and spoke about it in a recent op-ed in that ran in USA Today. In the op-ed, Walker remarked that “the states are closer to the people and they are often more willing and able to test creative solutions.”

At this time, 30 states are in some stage of considering what AARP calls “work and save” state-based, private-sector programs. The states include Arkansas and Utah. California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington State have already approved programs.

Some in Congress are seeking to — as Walker says — “undermine bipartisan state solutions to the retirement savings deficit faced by many Americans” by considering a veto of Department of Labor regulations that would make it easier for American workers to save — without a viable workplace retirement savings option. And the Senate is contemplating following the House’s lead.

Read Walker’s op-ed in support of work and save here.

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