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Meeting at CCSU looks at state-sponsored retirement plans

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NEW BRITAIN — Wednesday evening there was a hearing about a proposed state-sponsored retirement plan in the Constitution Room in Memorial Hall at Central Connecticut State University.

Seven speakers talked, and sign up for public comment began at 5 p.m., with public comment beginning at 6 p.m. The meeting was put on by the Connecticut Retirement Security Board, which was established this past legislative session to look into a retirement crisis facing the state.

State Comptroller Kevin Lembo co-chairs the board with State Treasurer Denise Nappier.

Lembo says 10 years ago, 66 percent of employees had access to some kind of retirement savings account through their office. Now it’s 59 percent, which means three quarters of a million people in Connecticut have no access to retirement savings.

“As access to these benefits decline, and fewer people have a vehicle to put money away, when they hit retirement age and in their old age, their not going to have enough money to support themselves,” said Lembo. “Folks turn to the government for assistance when those things happen. So it’s really in our best interest, as a people and as a government to see if we can wrap our arms around what the problem is here.”

The board is required to submit a feasibility study to the legislature by April. It would then need legislative action to go any further. This evening’s hearing will be included in research for the study.

While a proposal is still in early stages, the board has put out basic guidelines. Employers required to offer the plan would just have to present the mechanism of giving employees access to it.

It would not require the employer pay into state-sponsored plan. Also, it would not be a taxpayer funded venture, only supported by the funds put into it.

The plan would be available for all private sector employees without access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Businesses that already offer a retirement plan would not be mandated to present the state-sponsored plan. Also, employers with less than five employees would be exempt.

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