A universal retirement savings program was one of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first big initiatives on Monday since bringing his attention squarely back on the Big Apple after dropping out of the presidential race last week.
Approximately 1.5 million private-sector employees across the city do not have a retirement saving plan through their employer, according to de Blasio’s office.
“Over a million New Yorkers work their whole lives and have nothing to show for it,” said de Blasio. “Rather than work until the day they die, Universal Retirement Security will allow more New Yorkers to breathe a sigh of relief later in life and truly enjoy the years they’ve earned.”
The proposed program has already garnered a bevy of support from the city, state, and federal lawmakers, religious entities and advocates for the aging.
Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) and I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans), chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, have been big champions of the program.
“Fulfilling the goal of retirement is fast becoming a lost tradition in America,” said Miller (D-St. Albans), chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor. “People are working desperately to keep pace with ever-increasing living costs, but lack the means or direction to avoid falling into poverty in their later years.”
Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) shared Miller’s views on the need for a retirement program.
“This plan will bring a greater degree of financial security to thousands of working people in our city,” said Dromm. “For many New Yorkers, retirement is simply out of reach. Housing and medical costs can be overwhelming, and make saving for the future very challenging. By providing workers with an IRA, this effort financially empowers New Yorkers and makes retirement a reality for them.”
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said that New Yorkers deserved “dignified retirement in the future.”
“There are far too many New Yorkers who are not able to save for retirement,” said DiNapoli. “They need more options to help them put aside money.”
U.S. Rep. Greg Meeks (D-Jamaica), chair of the Queens County Democratic Party, believes the measure just makes “common sense.”
The program “provides stability for our entire economy,” said Meeks.
Harpreet Singh Toor, chairman of Public Policy and External Affairs at the Sikh Cultural Society in Richmond Hill, believes this is another way that New York has continued to be on the forefront of equality standards for working New Yorkers.
“The proposed retirement program legislation will be a step in the right direction to creating a more fair city, because millions of workers, especially those not in high powered jobs, will can be more confident about the work they do, knowing that they are getting an opportunity to invest in themselves and to provide a more secure future for themselves and their families,” said Toor.
AARP, a lobbying group for the elderly, was excited about the proposal.
“On behalf of the three-quarters of a million AARP members here in New York City, their family friends and neighbors, AARP is proud to stand with Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Members Kallos and Miller,” said Beth Finkel, AARP New York State Director. “This is a historic first-in-the-nation city program that will help achieve retirement security for New Yorkers.”