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Big Apple Looks to Close Retirement Coverage Gap

The push to create government-sponsored retirement plans to address the retirement plan coverage gap is not exclusive to governments at the federal and state levels. Now governments of individual cities are getting into the mix, with the largest U.S. city at the tip of the spear.

The effort to establish a city-based retirement plan for private sector workers in New York City got a huge political boost last month when Public Advocate Letitia James issued a detailed report on the state of retirement saving in the city and publicly endorsed the project. The Public Advocate for the City of New York is a citywide elected position that is first in line to succeed the Mayor, and a non-voting member of the New York City Council with the right to introduce and co-sponsor legislation for the city.

In fact, James is the lead sponsor of legislation pending in the New York City Council (Intro 0692-2015) that would establish a retirement security review board tasked with reviewing the recommendations of a previously established retirement security study group that was established by the New York City Comptroller in February of this year. Should the bill pass, the board would also recommend a process to create a New York City public retirement program and fund.

The board envisioned by the legislation is similar in nature to boards already created by state legislation in California, Connecticut, Illinois and Oregon. Those states are in various stages of a process to create state-based retirement plans for private sector workers. Stay tuned as those plans become operational over the next few years. But the political question about whether a state-based plan should be created for private sector workers has already been settled in those four states. It is likely that the same political question will soon be resolved in New York City.

Andrew Remo is the Congressional Affairs Manager at the American Retirement Association.