Vt. lawmakers to vote on public retirement measure

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 7:28 AM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - A new state initiative aims to better prepare all Vermonters for retirement.

According to the AARP, nearly 100,000 Vermonters are not covered by a workplace retirement plan and 90% of them have no retirement plan whatsoever.

Over the last few decades, companies have moved away from pension plans. That, combined with people living longer, means Vermonters are not saving enough, according to state officials.

“That is really significant and kind of scary when you think about this -- an 88,100 population that’s getting older and working toward retirement with little to no savings,” said Vermont Treasurer Mike Pieciak.

The treasurer’s office is working with lawmakers to create a public retirement plan called VTSaves. It works like a Roth IRA and would be kickstarted by a one-time $750,000 investment from lawmakers. It would give thousands of workers access to an auto-deduct savings plan not currently offered by their employers.

AARP’s Gregory Marchildon says building up Vermonters’ savings would relieve pressure on other social safety nets. “For programs like Medicaid, supplemental security income, SNAP, and housing assistance,” he said.

The plan has bipartisan support. Republican backers, including Sen. Randy Brock, R-Franklin County, applaud the proposal for not raising taxes. “This is a program that benefits people and does so in a way that’s economical and makes sense,” he said.

Governor Phil Scott says he has yet to see the proposal. “If it was a mandatory provision throughout, I may have some issues with it,” he cautioned.

Backers of the bill say the benefit isn’t just for older Vermonters. “It’s a way to give them a valuable tool that ends up being a real lifeline at the end of life when Vermonters are on a fixed income,” said Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale, D-Chittenden County.

Vermont would join 12 other states with similar programs.

The full Vermont Senate is expected to vote on the measure this week.