Bailey bill expanding employee-savings becomes law

Sen. Barbara Bailey’s legislation to help more public employees save for retirement was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee in a formal ceremony this past Thursday morning. The law created by Senate Bill 5435 will require new, full-time state employees hired after Jan. 1, 2017, to be automatically enrolled in the state’s deferred-compensation program unless they opt out.

“Saving for your future is critical,” said Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, who is a former chair of the state’s Select Committee on Pension Policy. “This is another valuable tool for our state employees to save tax-free for their retirement. It just makes sense.”

The deferred-compensation program is open to state employees and those employed by local governments who participate in the program. Under the new law, employees who have not specified a contribution level would automatically contribute at least 3 percent toward the savings plan.

“When new employees start they are bombarded with so much information that more often than not great benefits like deferred compensation are overlooked,” Bailey said. “This automatic enrollment will provide a low-cost encouragement for state employees to save for their retirement.”

Bailey’s measure won unanimous approval from the Senate and overwhelming support from the House of Representatives just before the Legislature’s 60-day regular session ended March 10. Lawmakers wrapped up a 20-day overtime session late Tuesday night and adjourned for the year.