Legislation to address Washington’s retirement savings crisis passed the Senate today on a 43-6 vote. Known as Washington Saves, SB 6069, sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) and requested by State Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti, would create an automatic Individual Retirement Account (IRA) for Washingtonians without access to employer-based retirement systems and help them invest and save those funds.

“This bill is a great way to help folks save for retirement, especially people who work lower-income jobs or for very small businesses,” said Mullet. “Having IRAs automatically set up for employees is good for everyone – it gives the worker an easy way to save money right out of their paycheck if they want to, and it saves the employer a ton of paperwork and hassle. And with new federal matching funds for retirement savings for low-income people from the Saver’s Match program on the way, there’s never been a better time to start automatic IRAs like this than now.”

An IRA account allows people to save money for retirement on a tax-free or tax-deferred basis. Many IRA savers choose to contribute money to their account through a small deduction from every paycheck – an easy way to consistently save.

According to the AARP Public Policy Institute in August of 2022, roughly 1.2 million Washingtonians do not have access to a retirement savings plan, which is about 43 percent of Washington’s private sector employees. In November of 2023, a survey conducted by Pew Charitable Trusts indicated that 72 percent of Washington’s small-business owners support creation of a state-facilitated retirement savings program.

The bill now goes to the House for consideration.