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Defined Contribution

Private-sector retirement programs moving ahead, NCPERS says

NCPERS' Hank Kim
Hank Kim

State efforts to set up private-sector retirement savings programs are making progress, a white paper to be released Tuesday by the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems said.

Officials at NCPERS began discussing state "secure choice" programs in September 2011. One year later, California became the first state to pass legislation that established a secure choice board and feasibility study, the groundwork for a program now in development for a 2019 launch.

This month, Oregon became the first state to enroll participants in an automatic Roth individual retirement account pilot program that will expand to all workplaces in 2019.

Connecticut, Illinois and Maryland won legislative approval to build similar programs, and Vermont recently enacted a voluntary multiple employer plan program.

Since 2012, 40 states have undertaken studies or initiated other early steps toward the creation of a retirement savings program for the private sector.

That is "tremendous progress," said Hank Kim, executive director and counsel of Washington-based NCPERS, in an interview. "States are moving forward, and states recognize that they need to do something," said Mr. Kim, who noted Oregon's pilot program got under way with voluntary employer participation. "Main Street wants something like this. It's really Wall Street that is opposed to it."

The white paper includes interviews with many stakeholders, including former Assistant Secretary of Labor Phyllis Borzi and secure choice officials in Illinois, California, Connecticut and Oregon. It also covers the history of secure choice, state initiatives and challenges ahead.

The report will be available on the NCPERS website.

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