The “Retirement for All CT” Senate bill passed the joint Committee on Labor & Public Employees one week after dozens of residents and organizations packed a public hearing to testify in support of S.B. 249.
The bill directs the executive branch to set up a public retirement plan option open to all Connecticut residents and businesses.
Supporters praised the vote.
“We are pleased to see the committee move so swiftly to pass S.B. 249. This bill will provide the 704,000 private sector workers who lack access to a retirement plan at work a viable savings plan for them to save for a retirement with dignity,” said Sal Luciano, executive director of Council 4 AFSCME. “We look forward to seeing the General Assembly take the bill up on the floor in the weeks to come.”
Last week a number of leaders in the legislature came out in support of the bill, including State Senate President Donald Williams, State Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, and House Majority Leader Rep. Joe Aresimowicz. Statewide constitutional officers Treasurer Denise Nappier and Comptroller Kevin Lembo also publicly backed the plan.
“Our nation and our state are currently on the brink of a retirement crisis that will not only impact retirees, but next generation workers as well,” said Aresimowicz, D-Berlin/Southington. “Every person who has worked hard throughout their life and played by the rules should have the ability to retire at an appropriate age and live the rest of their life with some financial security. This bill gives that chance to many people who otherwise will not be afforded the opportunity.”
Sen. Looney, D-New Haven/Hamden, added that, “As our citizens approach retirement far too many of them rely solely on Social Security as retirement income. In truth, while Social Security has lifted many senior citizens out of abject poverty, it does not in fact provide a decent living for those with no other source of retirement income. Connecticut would be well served by creating a program similar to that in California to address retirement security…Under this legislation, the state treasurer would develop a retirement savings trust fund similar to the CHET program. It would be a low-cost retirement savings plan without incurring additional costs for employers.”
In Connecticut, approximately 740,000 residents are not participating in an employer-provided retirement plan, according to a Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA) study released last year.
At last week’s hearing, the CT AARP testified about the need for S.B. 249, “This plan, and those considered by other states, is self-sustaining, paid for through participant fees...Connecticut can’t afford not to take action. If older adults do not have enough money for secure retirement, they will more heavily rely on Medicaid, which is the most expensive program in the state. Connecticut spent millions of dollars for Medicaid services to residents over age 65. These are dollars that the state can spend on other essential services like education and public safety. By helping people plan for self-sufficiency in retirement, the state will ultimately save money.”