New York’s efforts to provide more state residents with a new way to save for retirement are in jeopardy.
It’s up to the U.S. Senate to keep open the possibility of a state-run retirement plan, which is crucial to ensuring more New Yorkers build nest eggs.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Labor instituted rules that exempted states and large cities from the federal law governing pensions, called the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Those exemptions gave the state the ability to create its own retirement plan.The state could automatically enroll employees of companies that do not offer pensions or 401(k) plans in individual retirement accounts. A worker could always choose to opt out. A state commission will make recommendations on specifics later this year.
But last month, without fanfare, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the new U.S. Department of Labor exemptions.
There’s no vote scheduled yet in the Senate, but if they do vote, the senators should keep this in mind: More than half of the nation’s private sector employees don’t have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan; the statistics are similar for New York. States and large cities should be allowed to fill that gap, especially since the more residents save now, the less reliant they’d be on a government safety net later. At least 30 states have considered developing retirement plans. New York City proposed its own last year.
If the federal rules are repealed, New York could still move forward, but with limitations and increased risk. The best path is to let the rules stand. State officials then could craft a plan, one that would encourage New Yorkers to start planning now for their futures. — The editorial board