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An Initiative of the AARP Public Policy Institute

As states move forward to create and implement retirement savings plans for private-sector workers, there are important considerations for consumers, employers, and taxpayers.

Recent Analysis

Secure Choice 2.0: States Blazing a Path to Retirement Security for All

National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems — July 2017

A recent history of legislative and regulatory developments in state-facilitated retirement savings plans for small business employees.

Facts and Fallacy about State-Facilitated Retirement Savings Plans

David John and Angela M. Antonelli — February 2017

David C. John is a Senior Strategic Policy Advisor at the AARP Public Policy Institute and the former Senior Research Fellow in Retirement Security and Financial Institutions at the Heritage Foundation. Angela M. Antonelli is the Executive Director of the Georgetown Center for Retirement Initiatives and the former Director of the Thomas A. Roe Institute of Economic Policy at The Heritage Foundation.

Structuring a State-Sponsored Retirement Savings Plan

David C. John and William G. Gale — September 2015

Considerations for designing and implementing effective state-sponsored retirement savings plan including policy design choices, management issues, and role of employers and employees.

Other Resources

Review of Potential Public Retirement Plan Options for Private Sector Employees/Employers in the State of Vermont

Center for Retirement Initiatives, McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University — January 2017 [HCS1]

State Auto-IRA Programs: The Keys to Financial Self-Sufficiency

Alicia H. Munnell, Anek Belbase, and Geoffrey Sanzenbacher — December 2016

Recommends ways for state auto-IRA programs to cover their start-up and ongoing costs while keeping fees reasonable.

Savings Arrangements Established by Qualified State Political Subdivisions for Non-Governmental Employees

U.S. Department of Labor — December 2016

Allows certain cities and localities to set up payroll deduction retirement savings programs with automatic enrollment by amending a final rule from the U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Savings Arrangements Established by States for Non-Governmental Employees

U.S. Department of Labor — August 2016

Final rule from the U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration to facilitate state auto-IRA retirement savings programs. The rule sets up a new safe harbor from ERISA for certain payroll deduction savings programs with automatic enrollment.

Interpretive Bulletin Relating to State Savings Programs That Sponsor or Facilitate Plans Covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974

U.S. Department of Labor — November 2015

This document (Interpretive Bulletin 2015-02) attempts to clarify DOL’s views on how ERISA applies to state-run retirement plans, including state marketplaces and multiple-employer plans.

Livability Index

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DOL Finalizes Regulation on State Automatic IRAs and Proposes Extension to Cities and Other Political Subdivisions

Groom Law Group — August 2016

Analysis of the final state automatic IRA rule (August 2016), the proposed rule on political subdivisions (August 2016), and the Interpretive Bulletin 2015-02.

Building a Publicly-Sponsored Private Sector Retirement System: Lessons from Australia

Zachary May — September 2016

The U.S. can learn much from Australia’s “Superannuation” retirement system about adequacy and delivering retirement income effectively.

Delivering on Publicly-Sponsored Private Retirement Accounts: Key Considerations for Successful Public-Private Partnerships

Richard Mourdock — September 2016

Former State Treasurer of Indiana offers answers to questions about implementing state-sponsored private sector retirement savings plans.

The Importance of Auto Features in Promoting Retirement Savings

Brigitte C. Madrian, Harvard University and National Bureau of Economic Research — October 2014

How automatic enrollment and escalation can increase both participation and savings.

The Impact of ERISA on State-Sponsored Retirement Plan Designs

Robert J. Toth Jr., Law Office of Robert J. Toth, Jr., LLC — October 2014

How states can create a retirement saving plan that complies with ERISA or falls outside its scope. Using those structures, states can help employees of small businesses save their own money without imposing a burden on their employers.

Five Tips for Successful Default Contribution Rates in Automatic Retirement Savings Plans

Peter Chandler and Gary Mottola, Retirement Made Simpler — October 2014

Guidance for states to consider when evaluating default contribution rates.

Consumer Protections in State-Sponsored Retirement Plans for Private-Sector Workers

Karen Friedman and Norman Stein, Pension Rights Center — October 2014

Ensuring that consumers’ money and rights are fully protected is a key component of effective state-sponsored retirement savings plans.

Employer Liability Under a State-Sponsored Retirement Program

Robert J. Toth Jr., Law Office of Robert J. Toth, Jr., LLC — October 2014

A well-structured plan can minimize risks that an employer could face by participating in a state-sponsored retirement savings plan.

Investment Platform: The Advantages of Placing Retirement Savings Assets in Pooled Accounts

Karen Friedman and Norman Stein, Pension Rights Center — October 2014

The authors show how placing retirement savings assets in pooled accounts can reduce both costs and risk.

Can We Increase Retirement Saving?

Steven A. Sass – September 2016

A brief review of the evidence on tax incentives, behavioral finance, and 401(k) plans points to the promise of payroll deduction IRAs to expand retirement saving. 

How States Are Working to Address the Retirement Savings Challenge

The Pew Charitable Trusts — June 2016

Analysis of state retirement policy solutions for private-sector workers enacted or under consideration in 25 states as of June 2016, including a detailed discussion of plan design features and issues.

State Savings Initiatives: Lessons from California and Connecticut

Anek Belbase, Alicia H. Munnell, Nari Rhee and Geoffrey T. Sanzenbacher —  March 2016

This brief compare Connecticut and California’s prosed mandates for employers to provide their own plan or enroll their employees into a state automatic IRA plan.

Federal Action Could Help State Efforts to Expand Private Sector Coverage (PDF)

GAO — September 2015

This report examines state-level strategies and challenges related to expanding access to retirement plans within the confines of federal law.

Retirement Security Federalism in Action

Elliot Schreur — April 2015

This paper describes the evolution of state policies to supplement retirement savings and focuses on the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program.

State Initiatives to Expand the Availability and Effectiveness of Private Sector Retirement Plans (PDF)

David E. Morse —  December 2014

This policy report describes how federal laws such as ERISA would apply to state pension plans.

Testimony before the Oregon Retirement Savings Task Force

David C. John — July 2014 

Testimony before the Oregon Retirement Savings Task Force, How to structure an effort to improve retirement savings opportunities for private sector employees.

California Retirement Plan Could Serve as a National Model

Ross Eisenbrey and Monique Morrissey — September 2012

This memo describes features of the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program (SB 1234).

State-Guaranteed Retirement Accounts: A Low-Cost, Secure Solution to America's Retirement Crisis

Teresa Ghilarducci, Robert Hiltonsmith, and Lauren Schmitz — September 2012

This brief describes the steps states could take to create a secure retirement income for each state’s workforce.

California Retirement Plan Could Serve as a National Model

Ross Eisenbrey and Monique Morrissey — September 13, 2012

This memo describes features of the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program (SB 1234).

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Susan Reinhard is senior vice president and director of AARP Public Policy Institute. Read her latest blogs on family caregiving, healthy living, nursing and more. Read Susan's Blogs