Frerichs promotes Secure Choice retirement program

Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs talks about the state's Secure Choice retirement program...
Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs talks about the state's Secure Choice retirement program Monday in Springfield.(Mike Miletich)
Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 6:50 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs says 40% of private-sector employees across the state work for a business that doesn’t offer a retirement savings plan. He hopes more people will enroll in the state’s Secure Choice program.

Frerichs said Monday that more than 100,000 workers and 6,400 employers have participated in the auto-enroll IRA program since 2018.

A bill signed into law last year requires small businesses with at least five employees to provide a retirement plan or access to the Secure Choice program by November 2023.

“The employees are able to determine how they want to invest,” Frerichs said. “We give them four different options from conservative to growth to people who want to take a little more risk. They get to manage it. The state does not. So, there is no fear that the money will be swept out of these accounts.”

Secure Choice investments are managed by a private-sector financial services firm and the funds are kept in a trust outside of state government. Frerichs said people can choose to change their contribution level or fund option at any time.

A Republican hoping to be the state’s next treasurer was critical of the Frerichs press conference Monday. Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) said the Democrat previously supported Gov. JB Pritzker’s graduated income tax plan and said it could lead to taxing retirement income like pensions and 401ks.

“Thankfully voters rejected Frerichs’ call for taxing retirement income,” Demmer stated. “However, with Frerichs continuously advocating for tax increases - even taxing retirement income - Illinois families and retirees have anything but secure choices for their hard-earned income and savings.”

Frerichs quickly responded to Demmer’s statement Monday. He said Demmer needs to stop talking about something that is not an issue.

“I have stated clearly time and time again in front of the media that I don’t support a retirement tax. I propose no retirement tax,” Frerichs said. “I’m not going to propose any sort of retirement tax. My opponent keeps talking about this because he doesn’t want to talk about the real issues of retirement, maybe his numerous votes to reduce retirement benefits.”

The treasurer also claimed that Demmer voted against the creation of the Secure Choice program.

You can find more information about Secure Choice by clicking here.

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