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Resolved to Save: A State Option for Private-Sector Workers

PHOTO: Legislation to make it easier for North Dakota's small businesses to establish a retirement savings plan for their workers will be considered in 2015. Photo credit: Tax Credits/Flickr.
PHOTO: Legislation to make it easier for North Dakota's small businesses to establish a retirement savings plan for their workers will be considered in 2015. Photo credit: Tax Credits/Flickr.
December 29, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. – The coming of the New Year is a great time to bring a fresh focus on financial goals, and 2015 could bring a new option for retirement savings to workers across North Dakota.

Research shows that people with a 401k or similar savings plan available at work are much more likely to put money aside, but there are more than 100,000 workers in the state who currently don't have access to such programs.

Lawmakers will be asked to change that in the coming session, says Josh Askvig, associate state director for advocacy with AARP of North Dakota.

"We're going to be pushing a piece of legislation that would create what we're calling Save Toward a Retirement Today or a STaRT plan, so that small businesses can offer an affordable option for their employees to start saving for retirement through work," he explains.

Askvig says participation by private sector businesses would be voluntary, and enrollment would also be optional for the employees where a STaRT plan is offered.

These basic retirement accounts would be portable, so a person could change jobs and continue to save.

Askvig also notes there would be no ongoing costs or risks for North Dakota.

"It won't be commingled with any of the state funds for retirement,” he stresses. “So, the state isn't responsible for any participant gains or losses in the market.

“The state gets the benefit of knowing that people start saving for retirement and they'll have less reliance on public safety net services when they have a better retirement nest egg, when they reach that age."

It's estimated that nearly half of working households have no retirement savings at all – and among those who do, for most it's nowhere near the amount needed to maintain their standard of living.

North Dakota's 2015 Legislature gavels into session Jan. 6.


John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND