Forum Details Issues, Challenges With State-Run Retirement Programs

By Andrew Remo • June 24, 2016 • 0 Comments
A recent forum brought together a group of political heavy hitters in Oregon and other key stakeholders — including Judy Miller of the American Retirement Association — to discuss the current status of the Oregon Retirement Security Program and the issues surrounding the creation and implementation of other state sponsored retirement plans for the private workforce.

The event featured a keynote address from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) and Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, both of whom spoke of an impending retirement crisis resulting in large part from a lack of access to saving for retirement through payroll deduction. Wheeler is the chairman of the Oregon Retirement Savings Board authorized by law in 2015 and charged with designing a state-sponsored program that Oregon employers could use to comply with a requirement that they offer a retirement savings program for their employees. The requirement — which was also a part of the 2015 law — applies to all employers in Oregon regardless of size.

Miller participated on a panel moderated by Lisa Massena, executive director of the Oregon Retirement Savings Plan, that examined the practical consideration and current experience with making a state program work. Miller repeatedly stressed during the panel that it would be a bad idea to layer additional requirements on private employers who already offer a retirement savings program for the benefit of their employees. A reasonable reading of the law in Oregon is that employers who already offer a retirement benefit would not be impacted by the requirement, but the law does give the Oregon Retirement Savings Board broad power to design the rules of the program as the Board sees fit.

Massena mentioned during the panel discussion that the Board is still working through all the plan design details of the program but she expects a market analysis and financial feasibility report about the program to be issued by the end of the summer. The 2015 law envisions that the Oregon Retirement Savings Plan will start accepting participant contributions by July 1, 2017, a deadline that Massena said the Board — all of whom attended the forum — intends to meet.

Andrew Remo is the American Retirement Association’s Director of Congressional Affairs.