Opinion

Securing retirement savings for all New Yorkers

Automazul

Most New Yorkers are not saving enough to retire financially secure. While past generations were often able to rely on Social Security and a company pension, the responsibility to save has increasingly shifted to the employee.

Currently, more than half of New Yorkers working in the private sector under 64 years of age do not have access to any company retirement savings plans. This new status quo has endangered thousands of families, as budgeting for one’s golden years without the structure of a retirement plan becomes a Herculean task.

The problem is especially pronounced in minority communities, where 67 percent of Hispanic and 52 percent of African-American workers do not have access to an employer retirement plan. With complex, and often times predatory, private retirement plans as the only options available to these workers, the golden years of current and upcoming generations might not be golden after all.

Yet, there is a commonsense, bipartisan solution. We have introduced the Secure Choice Savings Program Act to give New Yorkers access to a quality retirement savings plan. This legislation would allow New Yorkers to enroll in a savings program to safeguard their economic stability. States like Illinois and Oregon enacted laws that will establish programs that will greatly expand access to retirement savings plans at relatively low cost. In addition, over 25 states now have legislation introduced to establish a savings program as proposed by the SCSPA. New York now has the opportunity to make saving easy and help avoid the impending retirement crisis.

Critics of this proposal believe that Secure Choice will give states an unfair advantage over privately offered retirement plans and hurt businesses – a problem that has been vastly overstated. If individuals had sufficient access to suitable options then we would not have the looming retirement debacle we have today. The reported concerns of companies that already offer retirement savings benefits are that the affordability of the program would drive down program prices throughout the market.

In fact, this legislation helps small businesses support their employees. Currently, less than half of businesses with 49 or fewer workers offer retirement plans. Not only is this unfair for these employees, but small businesses lose talent to larger organizations that can afford a companywide retirement plan. The Secure Choice Savings Program would allow small businesses to provide their employees with access to a competitive retirement plan for roughly $260 per business.

While partisan bickering has stalled governments across the nation, New York has remained the state that gets things done. We can continue moving forward by passing the Secure Choice Savings Program Act to help small businesses and their employees. Call your state legislators and ask them to vote in favor of our bill today.

Robert Rodriguez is the state Assembly member for the 68th District. Diane Savino is the state Senator for the 23rd District.

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