Defying Senate, Another State Passes Retirement Plan

Goal is 'not to compete' with private options

Bernie Sanders, Vermont, 401k, retirement, state-sponsored plans, senateThe Green Mountain State goes big with MEPs.

Forget what Trump says, individual states are plowing forward with their own retirement plans meant to cover workers who lack access from private-sector employers.

Vermont, home to Independent (Socialist) senator and recent presidential candidate Bernie Sanders,  is the latest to pass a bill securing a state-sponsored public option for small businesses. Called the “Green Mountain Secure Retirement” plan, the goal is to implement the plan by January 15, 2019.

The program, which recommended a Multiple Employer Plan (MEP) for its design, “will be open to any employer with fewer than 50 employees that does not currently provide a plan to its employees,” according to Vermont Business Magazine. It makes a “secure, vetted retirement option available to Vermont’s small employers.”

“I want to applaud the General Assembly on the passage of S135 and the enabling legislation to create the ‘Green Mountain Secure Retirement Plan,’” Treasurer Beth Pearce said in a statement. “…every Vermonter deserves an opportunity for a lifetime of financial wellbeing. The passage of this bill will allow the State to make substantive steps towards implementing a voluntary program for Vermonters who currently lack access to employer-sponsored retirement plans.”

The program will broaden the opportunity for more Vermonters to be better prepared for retirement “and in doing so [will] strengthen the economic vitality of our State,” she added.

Forty-five percent of working Vermonters do not have access to a workplace savings plan, according to AARP.

Vermont’s 2016 Public Retirement Study Committee Report, which first proposed the plan, “recognized the impact an increase in individuals of retirement age with no savings will have on the state budget and social service programs,” VermontBiz noted.

It also said that one of the goals of the plan “is that it does not compete with established private options, and the Treasurer’s office must make sure it complies with established state and federal laws.”

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