Illinois citizens without access to workplace-based retirement plans will get a new retirement savings option under a new law sponsored by state Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) that was signed today by Gov. Pat Quinn.

The law, which establishes the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program, seeks to head off an impending crisis for the 2.5 million Illinois workers who lack access to employer-based retirement plans.

It will make Illinois the first state in the union to have a law on the books automatically enrolling such workers into a retirement savings plan.

“More than a dozen states are considering a variety of solutions to the problem of dwindling retirement security,” Biss said. “I’m pleased Illinois is at the forefront of enabling people to maintain dignity and quality of life after they leave the workforce. My hope is that other states would follow our lead in seeking solutions to this pressing and underreported crisis.”

Researchers at the National Institute on Retirement Security estimate that the national retirement savings deficit is at least $6.8 trillion. One of the major causes of this problem is the huge number of employees who lack access to work-based retirement plans.

Secure Choice will tackle this by automatically enrolling most such workers in a portable Roth IRA savings account. Those who do not want to participate may opt out of the plan at any time. More information about the program, which could be implemented as early as June 1, is available online.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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