Looking Forward: The Network in the New Year
The New Year is an opportunity to dream, reflecting on what has been and setting one’s sights on what could be. On an individual level, this may take the form of health, career, or financial goals. But we can and should think on a policy level, too. Where have we been, and what can and should the future hold?
The vision of the Network is that all Hoosiers are financially secure and can pursue economic opportunity. Just imagine! How incredible would it be to live in a future in which all Hoosiers financially secure and able to pursue economic opportunity? We know we have work to do to get there. We know that far too many Hoosiers lack the assets – rainy day savings, home equity, and retirement accounts – that serves as both a buffer against unexpected daily events and a platform that enables them to plan on a brighter tomorrow. According to the Prosperity Now Scorecard for Indiana, one in five households has zero net worth or below, nearly one third lack a savings account, and more than one in four have a debt in collections.
This Network set three big goals on the table to move toward its vision. First, the Network wants to see small loans capped at 36 percent APR – the rate established for military families and residents of 16 states and D.C. – to stop the cycle of debt that leaves borrowers in or on the verge of bankruptcy. Already, state lawmakers have filed not one, but two bills establishing 36 percent rate caps. It’s up to us now to ensure that these proposals receive a hearing. Senator Bassler, the new chair of the Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee in the Senate, will soon make a decision about which bills to hear. Network members can and should contact Senator Bassler to voice their support for SB 104 and SB 84, asking that they receive a hearing.
We also know that Hoosiers – like consumers across the country – frequently lack the financial literacy to effectively evaluate the options they encounter. In the National Financial Capability Study, study participants were asked five questions covering aspects of economics and finance encountered in everyday life. Only 35 percent of Hoosiers (and 37 percent of U.S. adults) could correctly answer at least four out of five questions correctly. This year, we will ask our state lawmakers to set aside time to study the issue of financial literacy and how best to achieve better results so that Hoosiers are more prepared to navigate the financial marketplace.Senator Raatz is the new chair of the Education Committee in the Senate. Network members can let Senator Raatz know they support an interim study of financial literacy education best practices in K-12 systems and beyond.
One of the ultimate goals of asset development is the ability to age – and, if desired, retire from the world of work – with dignity. According to the 2018 Employee Benefit Research Institute survey, only 17 percent of workers are very confident about having enough for a comfortable retirement. However, confidence is higher among workers who have access to a defined contribution plan through their workplace. The Network supports increasing access to retirement savings vehicles. We will send an update as we learn more about proposals on the table to either study this issue or expand access to savings options. In the meantime, Network members can let their House or Senate member know that they want to see expanded access to retirement savings vehicles.
A bold vision can feel simultaneously exciting and distant – a focal point far off on the horizon. Once established, it takes effort to get there, carefully setting one foot in front of the other to make progress. Today, we invite Network members to refocus on the vision and take steps forward. Together, we can make incredible progress in 2019.