WA State Program Could Open Retirement Savings to More Workers

Washington News Service: OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington state lawmakers are considering a bill that would give workers a new retirement option.

Under the legislation, the Department of Commerce would operate the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program, allowing Washingtonians to automatically save part of their paychecks, and also bring their retirement money with them if they change jobs.

It's primarily for small businesses that aren't able to offer a retirement savings program for their employees.

"Any time that we can enable people to take care of themselves and give them options to save for their future and not be dependent on the social safety net, I think that's good for society in general," says Rep. Davina Duerr, one of the bill's sponsors.

A recent AARP survey found two-thirds of Washington voters are anxious about having enough money in retirement, and that nearly a quarter of respondents ages 25 to 64 have less than $5,000 saved.

More than half of Washington workers don't have access to a workplace savings program but are 15 times more likely to save if it comes directly out from their paycheck, according to AARP.

The survey also found folks are relying on some unlikely scenarios to cover the shortfall.

Some 17% say they'll receive an inheritance and 7% believe they'll win the lottery.

Duerr says a lack of retirement savings can cause pain later in life -- and not just for the person without savings.

"I have lots of friends whose parents haven't done so and are now having to lean on them and sometimes live with them and the cost to society if they have a medical issue or something where they can't pay is enormous," she points out.

The legislation is before the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Business. The cutoff for bills to get out of policy committees is Friday.


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