AARP pushing for new form of retirement plans

Legislative Gazette photo by Maria Enea
Sen. Diane Savino, at podium, sponsors a bill that would give more New Yorkers an option to save for retirement if their employer does not sponsor such a plan.

According to the New York AARP chapter, there are about 3.5 million people in the state who currently do not have a retirement plan set up with their employers.

AARP New York is looking to change this number by getting the Secure Choice Program in the final 2018-19 budget.

The Secure Choice Program would be a workplace retirement savings option for employees who do not have the option to save through their workplace. If the program were to be enacted, it would be a public-private partnership between the state and a professional financial institution.

Sen. Diane Savino, D-Shore Acres, also spoke at the rally. Savino is the sponsor of the Senate bill (S.4344-b) which pertains to the state enacting the Secure Choice Program. The Assembly bill (A.4982-b) is sponsored by Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, D-East Harlem.

More than 100 AARP volunteers from across New York attended the rally. Notable attendees included Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who was one of the first speakers expressing her support for a workplace retirement savings option in New York, particularly for women.

“Women are particularly vulnerable because over their lifetimes they are paid less than men, and by retirement, many slip into poverty,” Hochul said. “In our state, we believe that the Secure Choice ‎payroll deduction will create savings that will protect our seniors after a lifetime of work. We truly appreciate the advocacy of the AARP to help the governor and I get this passed.”

“Tens of thousands of New Yorkers do not have savings sufficient to allow them to retire in dignity. We need to do something,” Savino said. “As the sponsor of the New York Secure Choice Savings Program, I was very pleased to see the Governor include the plan in his budget proposal and look forward to seeing it cross the finish line.”

Throughout the state, there are an estimated 52 percent of workers from the ages of 18-64 in the private sector work for businesses that do not offer a retirement plan. There are an estimated 2.58 million employees in New York with annual earnings of less than $40,000 that do not have a workforce retirement plan. These workers make up 74 percent of the 3.5 million employees without a workforce retirement plan according to the AARP New York website.

The Associate State Director for Multicultural Engagement for AARP New York, Reggie Nance, also spoke at the rally citing concerns for minority employees throughout the state when it comes to having a retirement plan.

“About 52 percent of African Americans do not have access to a employer-provided retirement plan,” Nance said. “About 67 percent of Hispanic workers also do not have access to a retirement plan at work.”

Best-selling personal finance author Jean Chatzky also spoke at the rally as she expressed her support for Secure Choice.

“There are too many New Yorkers don’t have the ability to save this way, and this has to change,” Chatzky said. “I support Governor Cuomo’s inclusion of Secure Choice in his budget proposal and I strongly urge the Legislature to make it part of the final state budget.”

The bill has been co-sponsored by Democratic Senators Joe Addabbo, Tony Avella, Marisol Alcantara, and Jamaal Bailey. It is currently in the Senate Ways and Means committee and the Assembly Finance committee.