From Vermont Business Magazine – 5/19/17:

In its final hours Thursday, the Legislature voted to approve S135, Vermont’s economic development omnibus bill. Section C of the bill sets up a secure public retirement option, the “Green Mountain Secure Retirement” plan, for small businesses. Pending due diligence by the Treasurer’s office, the goal is to implement the retirement plan by January 15, 2019.

The program was proposed by Treasurer Beth Pearce’s Public Retirement Study Committee (link is external), which recommended a Multiple Employer Plan (MEP) for the plan’s design. The MEP will be open to any employer with fewer than 50 employees that does not currently provide a retirement plan to its employees. This program makes a secure, vetted retirement option available to Vermont’s small employers.

Treasurer Pearce made the following statement: “I want to applaud the General Assembly on the passage of S135 and the enabling legislation to create the ‘Green Mountain Secure Retirement Plan.’ The Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing & General Affairs; the House Committee on Commerce & Economic Development; and the House Committee on Government Operations were particularly instrumental in their support, leadership, and careful vetting to make this bill a reality. I also want to thank the Scott Administration for their support of this bill as well as the members of the Public Retirement Study Committee.

“Every Vermonter deserves an opportunity for a lifetime of financial wellbeing. The passage of this bill will allow the State to make substantive steps towards implementing a voluntary retirement program for Vermonters who currently lack access to employer-sponsored retirement plans. This program will broaden the opportunity for more Vermonters to be better prepared for retirement and in doing so strengthen the economic vitality of our State. I want to praise the broad group of Legislators from all parties in the House and Senate and stakeholder groups who worked together to create this bill.

“The bill is a culmination of three years of study overseen by my office with the Public Retirement Study Committee. Today 104,000 Vermonters do not have access to employer-sponsored retirement plans. I look forward to working with businesses, advocacy groups, and other stakeholders to implement a program that works for all Vermonters.”

Forty-five percent (link is external) of working Vermonters do not have access to a workplace savings plan. Those with access to a workplace retirement savings plan are considerably more likely to save (link is external), than those without. Vermont’s 2016 Public Retirement Study Committee Report recognized the impact an increase in individuals of retirement age with no retirement saving will have on the state budget and social service programs.

The committee agreed that reliable and adequate income in retirement is not just good for the individual, but also has a positive impact on the health of Vermont’s economy.

“Most small businesses do not have the investment experience or time to research available private retirement plans and make a decision about which plan is the best choice for their employees,” said Lindsay DesLauriers, State Director of Main Street Alliance and a member of that committee. “The MEP will enable employees of small businesses and small business owners themselves the opportunity to work toward economic security later in life through secure retirement savings.”

One of the goals of the plan is that it does not compete with established private options. The Treasurer’s office also must make sure it complies with established state and federal laws.

“Green Mountain Secure Retirement will lead to greater economic security for more Vermonters, including small business owners, and a healthier state economy for all,” said DesLauriers.