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Plan to Save More in 2015? MD Lawmakers Look at Ways to Help

PHOTO: Half of working Marylanders, at least 1 million people, don't have access to a retirement savings plan through work. A task force is looking at ways to change that. Photo credit: Microsoft Images.
PHOTO: Half of working Marylanders, at least 1 million people, don't have access to a retirement savings plan through work. A task force is looking at ways to change that. Photo credit: Microsoft Images.
December 17, 2014

BALTIMORE - Half of working Marylanders - at least 1 million people - don't have access to a retirement savings plan through work. The Governor's Task Force to Ensure Retirement Security for all Marylanders has kept that fact front and center as it explores options to help people at all wage levels save.

One idea is a state-supported "work-and-save" plan, similar to a 401(k), with automatic deposits through payroll. Kim Lamphier, advocacy director for the small-business organization Maryland Business, said her group is on board because of the benefits to employees and employers.

"It's a win for our businesses because it helps them recruit and retain the best employees," she said. "It provides a win for the employees. They get to save for retirement through payroll deduction, which is the most successful way to save."

The plans would be portable, following people as they change jobs, which is one of the reasons AARP Maryland would like to see the option. Some financial planners, securities firms and the Maryland Chamber of Commerce assert that education about IRAs could help bridge the savings gap.

Tammy Bresnahan, advocacy director at AARP Maryland, said retirement security is a top issue for people, especially since Social Security isn't sufficient as a sole source of income. The average benefit in Maryland is $1,400 a month.

"That is mind-boggling how people would survive on $1,400, especially in a state like Maryland," she said. "We really need to look at what would happen if that's the only thing that people have to count on, and that means more money into services and resources for those folks."

Illinois recently passed a similar program, and Bresnahan said several other states are looking at the option.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD