New state IRA program begins in Oregon

Oregon is about to take a small but important first step in solving the nation’s retirement security crisis. On July 1, 2017 the state launched a pilot program of “ OregonSaves” and become first in the nation to begin a state-based IRA program.

OregonSaves is a completely voluntary, simple, and convenient way for workers to save their own money into their own accounts. It’s automatic. Employees don’t need to do anything to enroll. Savings are through payroll deductions, which will make it simple for businesses, just like deducting payroll taxes. All Oregon employees 18 or older without a retirement plan at work will be eligible to join the OregonSaves program if they don’t have an employer-based retirement program. Participation is voluntary.

According to David John with the AARP Public Policy Institute, about 55 million full and part-time workers don’t have access to a payroll deduction retirement savings plan even though workers are 15 times more likely to save when the can do so at work. More than 1 million workers in Oregon don’t have a retirement savings option at work.

A second pilot program will start in the fall along with open enrollment for employers for the program to start more broadly in Oregon in 2018.  California, Illinois, Oregon and Massachusetts are the only states that have enacted legislation establishing a program while other states are still considering legislation.

As Oregon prepares to make public policy history, Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read said,  “Those who are moving toward retirement have gotten a little bit closer, and every dollar that people aren’t saving is a dollar that’s likely to have to come from a future safety net budget,” Read said. “We’re trying to address the tsunami that’s headed toward us and make it easier for people to take control of their own financial future.”

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