A state Senate panel okayed a bill Thursday that would create a retirement savings program for all workers in Illinois.
By a vote of 9-5-1, the Senate Executive Committee approved SB 2758, which would set up the Secure Choice Savings Program.
State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) sponsored the bill, under which all workers in Illinois will be required to have access to a portable Individual Retirement Savings Account through their employer.
“With private sector workers, especially low-wage workers, increasingly lacking access to retirement plans, Illinoisans face an increasing risk of retiring deep into poverty,” Biss said in a statement. “Senate Bill 2758 is the solution that’s least burdensome to government and businesses that will allow more workers access to safe, portable, and affordable ways to save and invest.”
According to the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, 2.5 million private sector workers in Illinois do not have access to retirement plans through their jobs.
“The Secure Choice Savings Program is sorely needed,” added Carol Ashley, vice president of advocacy at the Shriver Center. “Because of the lack of retirement savings options, too many workers will retire into poverty, and many will have to choose between basic needs like paying for their prescription drugs or keeping the lights on.”
The Shriver Center noted that more than one-third of households in the state rely on Social Security benefits, "which average only $1,152 a month, for at least 90 percent of their retirement income."
In addition to the Shriver Center, the Illinois Asset Building Group, the Woodstock Institute, the Heartland Alliance, SEIU* Healthcare, AARP Illinois and 45 other organizations and businesses in the state support the Secure Choice Savings Program.
“The Secure Choice Savings Program will help small businesses like mine compete with larger employers that offer retirement packages," said Excell Lewis, owner of Rockford-based XL Academics. Lewis testified in support of the bill at Thursday's hearing. “This will help us attract and retain highly qualified employees so that our businesses are sustainable.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate. Companion legislation in the House, HB 4595, is pending in the Finance Subcommittee.
*The SEIU Illinois Council sponsors this website.