SB19-173 Studies: At Least $155 ROI For Every $1 Spent

costs to families

In the debate over retirement security, we can all agree on one thing: The retirement crisis looms large, and unless we change course, Coloradans across the state won’t have enough saved when they reach retirement age.

Before we can decide on the best way to help Coloradans save more for retirement, we need the facts. We need to know whatever plan we put in place is financially feasible, self-sustaining, and will help Coloradans save. We need to know how many and what type of Colorado workers each approach would benefit and how the plans would be implemented.

However, assessing the feasibility and workability of these approaches requires thorough, detailed analyses conducted by experts with experience in actuarial analysis, retirement plan design and operation, and economic and financial modeling. These studies can get pricey — other states’ analyses have cost between $1 million to $1.5 million.

Legislation for the Colorado Secure Savings Plan Board (SB19-173) calls for such studies to test the viability of different retirement savings plans. Although these might seem expensive at first glance, doing nothing comes at its own cost. When Colorado workers don’t have enough to get by after they stop working, they will likely turn to state and local social assistance programs for help. What will this mean for current and future state and local budgets?

Several studies have already estimated the cost of inaction. Economists at Brigham Young University estimate if one-third of Utah’s retirees with the lowest savings increased their retirement reserves by $14,000, it would save $194 million in federal and state spending over 15 years. In Pennsylvania, the treasurer’s office determined if retirees there had sufficient retirement savings, the state would save a projected $14.3 billion in state assistance costs between 2015 and 2030.

As for Colorado, economists at the University of Maine say increasing retirement savings by $1,000 per year for the lowest income retirees would save Colorado taxpayers $155 million in state safety net spending over 15 years. Despite some sticker shock associated with SB19-173’s feasibility studies, the cost actually pales in comparison to the $155 million or more in potential savings if proposed plans successfully increase retirement savings in Colorado.

With a payoff of at least $155 for every $1 invested, the studies called for in SB19-173 are a great return on our investment, one we can make now to address the looming crisis we all agree is on the horizon.

(The Bell Policy Center has long supported the Colorado Secure Savings Plan, as this approach provides private sector workers without workplace plans automatic enrollment into a low-fee, portable, professionally managed retirement plan. Based on the evidence from states currently rolling out similar plans, this approach will provide 755,000 Coloradans with a way to start saving for their future. Learn more with the latest fact sheet from the Bell and other SB19-173 supporters.)

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