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Local News

‘Keystone Saves’ Aims to Help Millions of Working Pennsylvanians


Danielle Smith, Producer

More than 40% of private sector workers in Pennsylvania earned their living at businesses without retirement plans, as of 2020. Multiple groups are now urging the General Assembly to pass legislation to change it.

A bill under consideration would establish a state-facilitated retirement savings program for private-sector workers.

Bill Johnston-Walsh, state director for AARP Pennsylvania, said the bill aims to address the retirement security gap in Pennsylvania, where more than two million workers lack a workplace retirement savings plan.

He thinks the “Keystone Saves” program outlined in the bill would be a win, both for small businesses and their employees. 

“The important thing about Keystone Saves is that it is where the worker owns their own account,” Johnston-Walsh explained. “It’s where they can take it from job to job, so it’s portable. And the bottom line is that they will be able to start saving for their retirement.”

Johnston-Walsh argued a simple, voluntary payroll deduction would give more people a chance to build their own financial security. In other states, some banking and investment interests have voiced concerns it could cut into their business.

Research indicates people are 15 times more likely to save for retirement with a workplace plan. House Bill 577 passed the House in May and is now under consideration by the state Senate.

This week, AARP Pennsylvania was part of a news conference about the bill, with Sen. Art Haywood, D-Montgomery, and Rep. Kyle Mullins, D-Blakely. Johnston-Walsh added in a recent poll, up to 79% of small businesses and business owners said they’d support Keystone Saves.

“By passing this legislation, the Keystone Saves legislation, we’ll be putting a secure future within everyone’s reach within Pennsylvania now,” Johnston-Walsh contended. “It’s fair. It’s right. And it’s time to be able to do this and pass Keystone Saves.”

He noted they have until the end of November 2024 to get the bill to the governor’s desk for a signature. Eighteen states have already enacted state-facilitated payroll-deduction retirement savings, sometimes known as “Work and Save” programs. 

Disclosure: AARP Pennsylvania contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Consumer Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

This story first appeared in Public News Service, a member-supported news site to engage, educate and advocate for the public interest.