Business Report: California Launches CalSavers Senior Retirement Savings Program
KPBS anchor Ebone Monet and SDSU marketing lecturer Miro Copic discuss some of the week’s top business stories.
Q: How prepared are Californians for retirement and how might the CalSavers program help?
A: This program is a huge win for employers, employees and the state. Employees are not ready for retirement. The average individual, just before retirement between the ages of 55 and 64, only has $100,000 saved. That is not enough to carry them through retirement and Social Security. Social Security only gives you about $1,500 a month in benefits. The CalSaver program allows employers to offer a retirement program to their employees. Studies have shown that employees are 15 times more likely to participate in an employer program than finding and setting one up for themselves.
What's really cool, in the gig economy, is that contract workers can actually start participating in the program directly, beginning in September. Overall, this sets up employees to actually have that million dollars in their retirement account so they can actually live well in retirement.
Q: Gas prices have shot up across the state. The gasoline tax has gone up nearly 6 cents. Officials estimate this will bring in billions of dollars each year for road repairs. What could be the impact on the economy if consumers are spending more at the pump?
A: This is a scary thing. It's a fine line and a balance. This is a 5.6 cents tax. It's going to increase a little bit every year based on a Consumer Price Index. It's going to bring $5 billion to the state to repair roads, repair bridges, and expand mass transit. This actually has a positive implication: less time in traffic jams, easier commutes. So there's a big plus in terms of productivity for employees instead of individuals sitting on the roads.
Some people say that this tax isn't enough to actually fix all the roads. The big issue we have as a state, you know, our gas is a buck more than anywhere else in the country. Ten cents more than the next most expensive state, Hawaii. We pay 47 cents overall on state tax that most Americans don't. The other part, which the governor is focusing on, is kind of what a lot of administrations have said throughout time: that the oil companies and the refineries are actually manipulating the prices. So the state energy commission is doing a survey right now to see what part of that $3.75 per gallon that we pay is actually being manipulated by the oil companies. So we're going to pay a little bit more for a lot better roads conditions, and we're going to see if there are other manipulations that are taking place that might affect our gas prices.
Q: The San Diego International Airport is getting a $500 million makeover. What will this include and will it be enough to bring San Diego's airport up to a first-rate level?
A: This $500 million has been a year-long negotiation with the airlines to increase the per passenger fees. As part of a big vision of the San Diego Airport Authority, there is a $3 billion makeover of Terminal 1, taking it from 19 gates to 30 gates. So all the airlines are really excited about this because it really elevates San Diego to a world-class airport.
What this $500 million does is it solves two problems. One is the traffic on Harbor Drive. There's going to be a new road that's going to go from Laurel Avenue all the way to the airport with no traffic lights. It makes it easy to park. There is going to be a whole transit center that either is going to link the trolley, or there's going to be a transit center where people can park, and there's going to either be a subway or a people mover on the street level that brings people right to the airport which relieves tons of congestion. Overall this is going to have the support not only of the airport and the airlines but San Diego Association of Governments, the transit authority and the City of San Diego. They're going to look at four alternatives. They're going to report back in August. We'll kind of revisit that at that time and we'll see how it goes, but it's the right direction for the city of San Diego and the airport.