CHICAGO, IL –Treasurer-elect Michael Frerichs is pledging to seek bipartisan input to implement the state’s new Secure Choice Savings Program, enacted today by Governor Pat Quinn. As Illinois becomes the first state in the nation to implement the private-public partnership to help employers provide for their workers’ retirement, Frerichs says he hopes business groups and Republican lawmakers who were cool to the measure will play a leadership role in implementing it now that the dust has settled.
“We all have a shared interest and a shared responsibility to ensure that Illinois is competitive, and pooling our resources to help small and medium-sized Illinois employers compete in the 21st century is an important part of that,” says Frerichs. “As a lawmaker, I have enjoyed a strong working relationship with employers and with my Republican colleagues, and I hope to build on that as state treasurer.”
Frerichs’ transition team has been meeting throughout the holidays with the law’s primary backer, State Senator Daniel Biss, and others to get the Secure Choice Savings Program up and running within the next two years. The program is designed to help some of the state’s estimated 2.5 million workers whose employers don’t offer retirement plans save for their own retirement without creating any additional burden for employers or taxpayers. While the program partners primarily with employers with 25 or more workers, Frerichs hopes that once smaller employers are educated about the program and its benefits, many more will opt in. Frerichs says that the program will not only help smaller companies attract and retain workers, but can also help balance the state budget over the long haul by reducing retirees’ dependence on government-funded programs.
“Helping Illinois workers invest in their own retirement so that they are less dependent on taxpayer-backed programs 20 or 30 years from now is a smart investment of our time and effort that will help make the state budget more sustainable for the long haul,” says Frerichs. “Everyone would rather set aside a little today so they can remain in their homes and independent for as long as possible when they retire, and I am counting on Senator Biss for his continued leadership to make that vision a reality.”
The Secure Choice Savings Program will be governed by an independent board with seven members. Under the law, Frerichs will lead the board, which will also include: the State Comptroller, the Director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, and four public members appointed by Governor-elect Rauner with the approval of both Frerichs and the Illinois State Senate.