Maryland Auto-IRA Task Force Ponders Future under GOP

By Ray Harmon • November 21, 2014 • 0 Comments
In the wake of the surprise election of Republican Larry Hogan to the Maryland governor’s mansion earlier this month, the task force outgoing Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) established to study retirement plan access and potentially recommend a state-run automatic enrollment IRA program had its first post-election meeting Nov. 19.

The group heard testimony from witnesses of various walks of life about their retirement planning concerns. A local restaurant owner with no plan for her employees or herself said her decision has been based on a lack of trust in financial institutions and a sense that she does not have the resources to set up a plan. A café owner seconded those sentiments, though her restaurant does offer benefits including a health insurance plan. A 24-year-old Target employee and recent college graduate took to the microphone and preached rather effectively about the value of financial literacy, using his father’s stewardship of his now decade-long investment history as an example.

Other witnesses included a local business advocate who stressed that wage stagnation, post-recession market fears and threats of government shutdowns and related instability make retirement planning difficult for small business employees and employers.

After that lively discussion, State Sen. James Rosapepe (D-Prince George’s) turned the conversation to electoral consequences. According to O’Malley’s executive order forming the group, the work of the task force is set to end on Feb. 15, 2015, unless the new governor declares that it will remain in operation.

Rosapepe was not inclined to say whether he believes Governor-elect Hogan plans to “re-up” the task force, only that Hogan does not wish to publicly engage on policy matters until he has formally taken office. The senator did indicate the group would alternatively approach the leaders of both houses of the General Assembly about continuing the task force’s mission through legislative means, but whether that will be needed — or successful — remains to be seen.

The task force has another meeting scheduled for Dec. 1, when the group will hear about programs other states and countries have implemented to address retirement plan access problems. We will continue to keep you posted on that meeting and whether a state-run auto-IRA program will be coming to Maryland or other states anytime soon.

Ray Harmon, Esq. is government affairs counsel for ASPPA.