Governor’s Proposed Changes to the Virginia Saves Program Will Alleviate Burdens for Small Business

For Immediate Release: 
Monday, March 29, 2021

Statement from Awesta Sarkash, Government Affairs Manager for Small Business Majority, on Governor Ralph Northam’s proposed amendment for a retirement saving program run by the Commonwealth

“We're thrilled that Governor Northam amended HB 2174, which would create the Virginia Saves Program (HB 2174), a state-run retirement savings program funded by modest payroll deductions. This is an important step to supporting small business owners and their employees in the Commonwealth who face barriers to accessing traditional retirement benefits. The Governor’s proposed amendment would allow part-time employees to participate in the program, which will help ensure employers don’t have to track their employees’ hours to determine eligibility. Without this amendment, this requirement would have placed a burden on employers. 

While we are pleased to see this legislation move forward, there are still challenges that remain that will prevent the smallest businesses from participating in Virginia Saves, and those are the businesses that face the greatest barriers to accessing retirement benefits. Currently, the legislation restricts access to employers with 25 employees or more. This excludes more than 90% of businesses, which could lead to low participation in the program.

We know that many small business owners want to offer retirement benefits to attract and retain talented employees, but they struggle to do so due to the cost and complexity of setting up a retirement plan. It should come as no surprise that nearly two-thirds of small business owners in Virginia said they support state efforts to enact a state-administered retirement program that would automatically enroll employees of businesses without their own plan.

We applaud this action by the Governor and we urge the legislature to immediately approve the amendment. We also urge the legislature to consider changing the business threshold to businesses with five employees or more in the future so our small businesses can benefit from this program.”

About Small Business Majority

Small Business Majority is a national small business organization that empowers America's diverse entrepreneurs to build a thriving and equitable economy. We engage our network of more than 80,000 small businesses and 1,000 business and community organizations to advocate for public policy solutions and deliver resources to entrepreneurs that promote equitable small business growth. Our deep connections with the small business community along with our scientific research enable us to educate the public about key issues impacting America’s entrepreneurs, with a special focus on advancing the smallest businesses and those facing systemic inequalities. Learn more about us on our website and follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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