Less than half of U.S. Latino workers have retirement plans as a benefit of their job, leaving most with no savings for their golden years, according to a report by the National Institute of Retirement Security (NIRS).
The Connecticut Legislature has a proposed bill though which could help to remedy this. S.B. 249 creates a state-administered retirement savings plan for low-income private sector workers.
The state would create the Connecticut Retirement Security Trust Fund, which would be a low-cost retirement savings plan without increasing costs to employers. There would also be a payroll deduction component involved.
“It’s a payroll deduction so it doesn’t require the individual to write a check or anything,” Sen. Andres Ayala, D-Bridgeport, said. “It’s automatic.”
Ayala is the co-chair of the Legislature’s Aging Committee and has heard testimony on how seniors are living in destitute circumstances because they were not adequately prepared for retirement.
“This is for folks in their golden years to have something on the side to live on and improve their quality of life,” Ayala said.
The study conducted by NIRS also showed that Hispanics are much less likely than whites to have defined-benefit pensions, especially outside of public sector jobs. S.B. 249, An Act Promoting Retirement Savings, would address this by having employers with five or more employees utilize the state’s new trust fund.
The bill is written to have the state work with employers to set-up payroll deduction. This is because legislators believe this method will have a higher success rate as opposed to having individuals fund their own individual accounts on a schedule set by them.
The proposed bill would use public funds to pay for about 4,000 three and four-year-olds to attended pre-K, primarily in Connecticut’s Priority, Alliance and Competitive School Districts, which are districts the state has determined need the most support.
This means that over the next five fiscal years 1,484 Hispanic children could receive a jump-start to their education, which proponents say is a major step in helping to close the state’s achievement gap.
“The earlier they are introduced to their numbers, and letters, and colors, the better chance they have,” said Rep. Jason Rojas, D-East Hartford. Rojas, who sits on the legislature’s Education Committee, said research points to the achievement gap actually starting before a child even enters school. “A lot has to do with where you were born, who your parents are, and what your economic situation is,” Rojas said.
State Department of Education statistics indicate that about one-third of Latino students in third grade are reading at grade level and about one-third do not graduate high school.
For Rojas and other advocates, one way to help economically disadvantaged children is to give them the same access to education that others have. To do this though, they believe the state needs to assist parents who cannot afford sending their children to private preschools.
Middlesex Community College’s Meriden Center has “accepted” more than 66 new students – all middle school students from Meriden and Southington. These high-achieving students have been selected to be part of the program known as the Meriden Enrichment Academy at the Meriden Center, which was created in collaboration with the Meriden Public Schools in the spring of 2012. The academy, which consists of workshops taught by MxCC instructors, runs programs on Saturdays in March and April. This spring students from the Southington District will be participating in the academy as well.
The first set of workshops will be “Make Your Own Website” with Adam Chiara and “Introduction to Video Production,” taught by Robert Mowen. The second set of workshops will be “Using the New York Times for Critical Reading and Thinking” with Barbara Giffin, and “Creating Animation and Video Games” taught by Annjanette Bennar.
“The Middlesex Community College partnership will offer extraordinary opportunity to sixth graders within our district, said Dr. Joseph Erardi, superintendent of Southington Public Schools. “This Saturday enrichment program, housed within the MxCC Meriden campus, allows our middle school youngsters to individualize their learning in an optimal state-of-the-art learning environment.”