State-sponsored retirement plans for private-sector workers

ERISA consultants at the Retirement Learning Center (RLC) Resource Desk regularly receive calls from financial advisors on a broad array of technical topics related to IRAs, qualified retirement plans and other types of retirement savings and income plans, including nonqualified plans, stock options, and Social Security and Medicare.  We bring Case of the Week to you to highlight the most relevant topics affecting your business.  

A recent call with a financial advisor from Illinois is representative of a common inquiry related to states and retirement plans. The advisor asked: “Which states, if any, have enacted or proposed legislation that would enable them to offer retirement savings programs to private-sector workers?”    

Highlights of the Discussion 

As of October 6, 2020, 12 states have succeeded in enacting laws creating retirement savings programs for private-sector workers. 1 One city—Seattle, WA—has also enacted an auto IRA program.2 The following represents a high-level overview of the various plans. 


Plan Name 

Type of Plan 


California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program  

Automatic Roth IRA 


Colorado Secure Savings Program 

Automatic Traditional IRA  


Connecticut Retirement Security Program  

Automatic Traditional or Roth IRA 


Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program  

Automatic Roth IRA 

Maryland Small Business Retirement Savings Program 

Automatic Traditional IRA 


Massachusetts Defined Contribution CORE Plan   

A multiple employer plan that is a pre-tax and post-tax 401(k) savings plan developed for employees of eligible small nonprofit organizations.  

New Jersey 

New Jersey Small Business Retirement Marketplace   

A marketplace for diverse retirement plans, including, at least, life insurance plans, Savings Incentive Match Plans for Employees (SIMPLE) IRAs and payroll-deduction IRAs. 

New Mexico 

The New Mexico Work and Save Act  

Voluntary Payroll Deduction Roth IRA 

New York 

New York State Secure Choice Savings Program  

Voluntary Payroll Deduction Roth IRA 



Automatic Roth IRA 


Vermont Green Mountain Secure Retirement Plan  

A multiple employer plan that is a tax-deferred, pre-tax 401(k) savings plan with optional future employer contributions 


Washington’s Small Business Retirement Marketplace   

A marketplace where qualified financial services firms offer low-cost retirement savings plans to businesses and individuals 

Seattle, WA 

Seattle Retirement Savings Plan  

Automatic Traditional or Roth IRA 

Additionally, another 23 states have introduced legislation on this topic that is still under consideration. Those states include: Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. 

For additional information, please see State-Administered IRA Programs: Overview and Considerations for Congress from the Congressional Research Service. 


Concerned with the retirement security of their workers, some state legislatures have enacted laws that create state-sponsored retirement savings plans for private-sector workers. Many other states are considering similar action. The industry can expect more activity in this area in the coming months. 

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