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Tobias Read shares benefits of pioneering retirement program at Fairview City Hall.

FILE PHOTO - Oregon State Treasurer Tobias ReadOregon State Treasurer Tobias Read visited Fairview City Hall on Thursday, Nov. 9, for an East Metro Economic Alliance forum to discuss topics including the rollout of OregonSaves.

The first operating state-sponsored retirement program OregonSaves will enroll Oregon workers who lack access to a retirement savings option through their employers. The idea is to allow hundreds of thousands more Oregonians to retire with dignity.

"We are doing something no other state is doing — taking on Oregon's retirement crisis," Read said. "I want to help every Oregonian achieve financial security."

Employees who choose not to opt out of the program will automatically start saving a percentage of their paycheck into their own individual retirement arrangement (IRA), which will stay with them from job to job. Since it's an IRA, the employee will have total control over their account, though it does mean that employers are unable to provide matching funds.

Read was the chief sponsor of the bill that created OregonSaves during his time in the Oregon House of Representatives.

"One of my priorities is helping Oregonians save and prepare for the future," he said. "It's important to help people save because it eases the stress on our social safety net programs."

From the beginning the plan was to slowly roll out OregonSaves to make sure all of the processes work as intended. In the three months since the pilot program was made available to a small group of businesses, 1,000 participants have saved $150,000. The opt-out rate has been a little less than 30 percent, which is what they expected, and the average contribution per pay period has been $60.

"The idea with all of this is it makes it easier for people to do what's in their best interest," Read said.

The plan is to continue to expand the companies to which OregonSaves is made available. Expectations are for it to completely cover all businesses in about a year and a half.

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