On June 8, 2017, Governor Phil Scott (R-VT) signed into law S.135 (Secs. C1 & F1, pages 70-76) the new “Green Mountain Secure Retirement Plan,” the first state-facilitated multiple-employer plan (MEP) in the nation. The bill passed the Vermont legislature with strong tri-partisan support.

The plan will allow voluntary participation for employers with 50 employees or fewer who do not currently offer a retirement plan and for self-employed individuals. Automatic enrollment will be permitted for all employees of employers who decide to participate in the MEP with an employee option to opt-out. It will be funded by employee contributions and includes an option for future voluntary employer contributions. There is an interim Public Retirement Plan Study Committee to develop recommendations on the design, creation, and implementation of the MEP as well as to make recommendations regarding options for retirement plans to individuals who do not participate in the MEP, options for paying for the costs of administering the MEP, and methods to increase participation in the MEP.

This law is based on the work of the Vermont Public Retirement Study Committee’s Interim Study of the Feasibility of Establishing a Public Retirement Plan Required by Act 157 of the 2016 Legislative Session, submitted on January 6, 2017, which recommended the creation of a MEP.  As part of the Committee’s report, the Georgetown University Center for Retirement Initiatives (CRI) prepared a Review of Potential Public Retirement Plan Options for Private Sector Employees/Employers in the State of Vermont outlining the retirement security challenge in the state of Vermont and laying out various plan design retirement options that states could pursue for helping their constituents with retirement savings, including a state MEP.

On June 7, 2017, the Georgetown CRI hosted a webinar with Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce, Chair of the Vermont Public Retirement Study Committee, and other experts to discuss why Vermont chose a MEP approach and the path forward as they begin to implement this new program.