One issue I’ve been working on for my entire legislative career is to help folks to save for retirement, especially people who work for small businesses or lower wage jobs that don’t have easy access to an IRA or a 401k account. I employ a bunch of people at my restaurants, and you wouldn’t believe how many of them haven’t yet started saving for retirement. We’ve got to make it easier for folks.
The basic idea we’re hoping to get passed is that the state sets up an IRA plan for everyone whose job doesn’t offer one as a part of their benefits package. If a worker doesn’t want to participate, they don’t have to, but those who want to will have an easy option to have money taken out of the paycheck to save for retirement, without the employer having to go through the hassle of setting it up for them. It all happens automatically and easily for everyone who wants it.
You can read about it in this excellent Seattle Times story – I pushed the plan in 2019 and 2020 and couldn’t get it passed all the way to the governor’s desk, but we have new momentum now.
The effort got a surprise jumpstart this past December when Congress passed the SECURE 2.0 Act as a part of their year-end spending bill. We all are so used to gridlock from Congress that it’s wonderful news when they do something good, and this was great. It provides federal 50% matching funds up to $1,000 a year for low-income retirement savers – you put $2,000 in your retirement account, you get $1,000 extra to match it from the feds. That’s a big boost for somebody trying to get their savings started.
With this new source of federal funding for folks starting their retirement saving, there’s no better time to get workers on track for their retirement. Plus, six other states, including Oregon and California, have launched this sort of plan, so we can learn from and work with them on this.
I talked a little bit about this issue in my weekly video – you can watch it here and feel free to share!
Thanks so much for reading, as always, and feel free to share your thoughts on this or anything else at Mark.Mullet@leg.wa.gov. We’re now just over a third of the way through session so we’re getting into crunch time, and your input, ideas, and stories, help me serve you as well as possible, so don’t hesitate to reach out.
Sen. Mark Mullet