Mayor de Blasio Backs “Retirement Security for All” to Help New Yorkers Save for Retirement in Package Carried by Council Members Kallos & Miller
Mayor and City Council Stand Up to President Trump and Republican Congress
Who Sought to Block States & Cities from Providing Retirement Accounts to Residents
New York, NY – Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his intention to move forward with “Retirement Security for All,” previously announced on February 25, 2016. The plan met with uncertainty following the passage of House Joint Resolutions 66 and 67 by Rep. Walberg (R-MI) and Rep. Rooney (R-FL) on March 30, 2017 and signature by Trump on April 13, 2017, to roll back regulations permitting States and Municipalities to offer retirement savings plans.
New York State Attorney General and then Public Advocate Letitia James authored legislation now re-introduced by City Council Member Ben Kallos and Civil Service and Labor Committee Chair I. Daneek Miller, Int. 888 & Int. 901, that would allow every private sector worker in New York City to save for retirement even if their employer did not offer a 401K.
“Every New Yorker should be able to save for retirement. It's hard to imagine that Republicans are all of a sudden against Americans taking 'personal responsibility' but stopping retirement savings for all was at the top of the Trump administration's list in 2017 and even passed the Republican Congress," said Council Member Ben Kallos who is an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) attorney. “Thank you to Mayor Bill de Blasio for taking this bold step to help millions of New Yorkers save for retirement. I can't wait to help millions of New Yorkers save for retirement and upset the Trump agenda all at the same time.”
“Too few Americans lack the means or direction to adequately plan for their retirement,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor. “We all recognized this deficiency several years ago, and dared to act boldly to provide the infrastructure necessary to help nearly half of our City’s private workforce members lay a foundation for a more stable future. The prospects of our Retirement Security for All initiative seemed to dim after a hostile federal government assumed by Republicans passed resolutions intended to extinguish this very proposal, but the tide has turned, and the dawn of a friendly State Legislature and Congress is upon us. I thank Mayor de Blasio for his leadership in confronting this maligned Administration in Washington in order to fulfill this worthy goal. Council Member Kallos and I look forward to working with him in the days ahead to make the principle of Retirement Security for All New Yorkers a reality.”
In New York City, two-thirds of workers, more than 2 million people in 2009, did not participate in employer-sponsored retirement plans, largely because their employer didn’t offer one, according to a 2011 report by Comptroller John Liu. More than one-third of households lead by a member who will become a senior citizen in the next decade will either be unable to retire or have to live on entirely or primarily on Social Security Income, according to the same report. The National Institute on Retirement Security predicts a United States retirement saving deficit of as much as $14 trillion.
On April 12, 2018 Governor Andrew Cuomo signed budget bill S.7505C / A.9505D that established the “New York State Secure Choice Savings Program” as Article 43 of the General Business Law to provide employers that do not currently offer retirement savings to their employees with the option of offering a Roth individual retirement account (Roth IRA) managed by the State.
The legislation authored by Public Advocate Letitia James and introduced with Council Members Kallos and Miller on April 25, 2017 and re-introduced on May 9, 2018, consisted of two bills Int. 1580 of 2015now Int. 901 of 2018 to establish a board and Int. 1574 of 2015 now Int. 888 of 2018 to establish a plan. The Board would be established to administer the plan, engage in rulemaking, auditing, and reporting, along with public education and community outreach forums. The plan would cover all employers with more than ten employees that did not already offer a retirement plan. At no cost to the employer, private sector employees would be automatically enrolled, with an option to decline the payroll deduction savings plan administered by the City.
Unlike the New York State plan and similar to states like California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland and Oregon, the New York City legislation would mandate that certain employers automatically enroll their employees if they don’t already offer an option. The New York City plan would default to a Roth IRA with a contribution rate of 3% with option to change rates or choose an IRA.
In 2016, the new legislation was initially enabled by rules promulgated by the United States Department of Labor (RIN 1210-AB71) prior to the Trump administration stepping in to block it in early 2017. Kallos joined then Public Advocate James in a January letter advocating for cities to be empowered to offer Savings Arrangements Established by States for Non-Governmental Employees.
In 2015, Public Advocate James and Council Member I. Daneek Miller had introduced and heard Int. 692 to create a review board to study and issue a report regarding recommendations for the City to establish a retirement security program for private sector workers.
Council Member Kallos' work on Retirement for All dates back to 2015 when he was co-prime sponsor to legislation that studied the implementation of Retirement Security for All with then Public Advocate Tish James and Civil Service and Labor Committee Chair I. Daneek Miller. The bill was heard in committee in June 2015.
Before being elected to the Council, Kallos practiced Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) law at Gorlick, Kravitz and Listhaus, representing laborers at the Mason Tenders District Council fighting for the retirements of workers and Miller served as President of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local No. 1056 and co-chaired the MTA Labor Coalition which represents 29 unions and more than 60,000 workers.