Launch Press Conference Launches with Bipartisan Support to Bring Retirement Security Program to Pennsylvania

Treasurer Torsella, AARP Endorse Statewide Conversation

HARRISBURG, Feb. 8 – Pennsylvanians in need of a savings program to better prepare for retirement received a major boost today as a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers, Treasurer Joe Torsella, and AARP said it is time for the commonwealth to move forward in its development of a retirement security program.

To help people learn what lawmakers are doing and saying about retirement security, the group also unveiled a new website,

“Green is the color of the day in Pennsylvania,” said House Democratic Appropriations Committee Chairman Joe Markosek, who brought lawmakers together and introduced to the public during a Capitol press conference. “Eagles fans are celebrating a Super Bowl victory, and we are here to say we will be working together to craft a retirement security plan so Pennsylvanians can save more green for life after work.”

Joining Markosek today were Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), Sen. Art Haywood (D-Montgomery), Rep. Mike Tobash (R-Schuylkill), House Democratic Whip Mike Hanna (D-Clinton), Rep. Warren Kampf (R-Chester), Treasurer Joe Torsella, and AARP Pennsylvania Advocacy Manager Ray Landis.

Sen. Browne, who is working on retirement security legislation with Sen. Haywood, said Pennsylvanians are not saving enough for life after work.

“More than 2 million working Pennsylvanians do not have access to a retirement savings program at work and three-quarters of a million workers who do have access do not participate,” the Republican Senate Appropriations Committee chairman said. “This has to change because, if it doesn’t, Pennsylvania taxpayers will be the ones who have to cover them in retirement.”

Reps. Hanna and Mike Driscoll (D-Philadelphia) have introduced House Bill 465 to establish a Keystone Retirement Security program and that proposal is awaiting action in the House Finance Committee.

“Whether we adopt the Keystone Retirement Security bill or another program with other elements and opportunities for hardworking Pennsylvanians, the point is we must have this conversation and develop a good program that makes it easy for people to consistently save and invest in their own retirements,” Hanna said.

Treasurer Torsella’s Task Force on Private Sector Retirement Security has held three public hearings on the retirement problem in Pennsylvania and has explored the barriers preventing employers from offering their own retirement savings plans for workers and the options available for bringing retirement security to the commonwealth.

The treasurer said the financial consequences of the retirement crisis “are much greater than we realize.

“There is a wave of retirement due to hit shore in the next 10 years. A wave that, I’m sorry to say, is woefully unprepared,” Torsella said. “Recent projections show the commonwealth – and taxpayers – will end up paying more than $14 billion between 2015 and 2030 in state assistance costs, due to insufficient retirement savings.

“That’s $14 billion we could be putting towards our schools, towards our roads, towards our first responders who keep us safe,” the treasurer said.

Rep. Mike Tobash (R-Schuylkill) praised the bipartisan effort to tackle the retirement savings problem in Pennsylvania and encouraged people to visit the website.

“It does not do us well to have seniors retiring in poverty,” Tobash said.

Generally, states have explored three types of retirement security programs to help their own residents better prepare for their golden years:

  • Auto-IRA, which requires automatic deductions from workers’ paychecks into portable, individual retirement savings accounts. Reps. Hanna’s and Driscoll’s bill would establish an auto-IRA program,
  • Multiple-employer program, or MEP, which is a qualified retirement plan regulated by the IRS and ERISA (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act) and involve two or more “unrelated” employers operating a retirement savings program for employees, and
  • Marketplace, which, typically, is when a state contracts with private investment companies, banks, etc., to connect eligible employers with qualifying savings plans.

California; Connecticut; Illinois; Maryland; Oregon; and Seattle, Wash., have designed – or are in the process of designing – auto-IRA retirement savings programs. New Jersey and Washington are planning marketplace plans. And, Vermont is planning MEP.

“Democrats, Republicans, the AARP, and business leaders are here to say, in one voice, that it’s time to get to work to help Pennsylvanians help themselves in retirement,” said Markosek. “If we do not succeed in helping many more Pennsylvanians save for their own retirements today, Pennsylvania taxpayers will pay the tab for their care in retirement tomorrow.”