AARP Urges Lawmakers Against Killing ‘Hawai‘i Saves’ Bill
The AARP Hawai‘i is urging lawmakers to save the Senate Bill 1374.
The bill is part of the Kupuna Caucus legislative package. It aims to create an easy way to help 216,000 private-sector workers save for retirement at work.
According to the AARP, the House and Senate both passed versions of the bill unanimously, and the Senate has appointed conference committee members but the House has not.
“Unless House conferees are named, the bill automatically dies for this year and the public will never know why the Hawai‘i Saves bill died or who killed it,” said Barbara Kim Stanton, the state director of AARP Hawai‘i. “When the public process is arbitrarily cut short, the public is shortchanged of its right to a full open discussion. It’s a disservice to all the people who spent countless hours testifying throughout the session to advance the bill.”
Stanton continued saying, “There is widespread support for the bill from small businesses, workers and the public as well as vast support from members of the Legislature who want a secure retirement for our residents.”
Stanton noted that this is the fourth year that a Hawai‘i Saves bill has advanced, “only to run the risk of having conferees pulled in the end.”
“The purpose of conference committees is so both sides can sit down and iron out their differences. If there are concerns and disagreements, have a full discussion in public. But don’t kill the bill in secret by refusing to come to the table. The public process should be allowed to play out and the sunshine let in. We urge the House leadership to appoint the conferees to this important bill as soon as possible,” Stanton said.
According to the AARP, about half of private-sector workers do not have pensions or a way to save for retirement through payroll deduction. The organization notes that people are 15 times more likely to save if it comes out of their paychecks before they get a chance to spend it.
The bill would authorize a public/private partnership to create a Hawai‘i Saves program so businesses that don’t offer retirement savings programs to their workers can provide the benefit at no cost to the business. A private company would run the program and hold worker’s money in individual accounts.
The bill is aimed at addressing what the AARP is calling “a retirement savings crisis” that they claim will increase costs to state government if nothing is done.
The average savings of all workers is just $2,500 and workers nearing retirement have only saved an average of $14,500, according to the AARP. “Those workers will likely need social services to help pay for housing, food and medical care. It’s estimated that the state will save $32.7 million in 15 years if workers can save enough to generate an additional $1,000 a year in retirement income,” AARP representatives said.
According to the AARP, a state-facilitated retirement savings program in Oregon is now in place, with many of the participants being first-time savers. The average savings there is $100 a month and assets after 21 months have reached more than $16 million.