Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, October 28, 2019

Gov. Evers appoints Collins to retirement security task force

Professor J. Michael Collins Professor J. Michael Collins

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers appointed UW–Madison Professor J. Michael Collins as a public member of the Governor’s Task Force on Retirement Security. The task force will study issues facing the growing number of retired people in Wisconsin, particularly the amount of money they have saved.

A member of the La Follette School faculty, Collins is the Fetzer Family Chair in Consumer and Personal Finance at UW–Madison and Faculty Director of the Center for Financial Security (CFS) for the School of Human Ecology.

Earlier this month, the CFS received a second year of funding from the Social Security Administration’s Retirement and Disability Research Consortium to explore the financial well-being of financially vulnerable families, older people, people with disabilities, low-wealth households, and children.

“Your experience, knowledge, and dedication will be a true asset to my administration and a great benefit to the people of Wisconsin,” Evers said in Collins’ appointment letter.

On October 23, Collins participated in a discussion about the financial literacy crisis organized by US Reps. David Scott, Madeleine Dean, and Steve Stivers and in collaboration with the House Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus. The two-hour event in Washington, DC, is sponsored by FS Investments.

Collins, Gary Mottola of the FINRA Foundation, and Melody Harvey, a fellow at UW–Madison’s Institute for Research on Poverty, defined the problem, with Katherine Sauer of the National Endowment for Financial Education as moderator. A second group of presenters – Jill Bazelton, Blake Marble, Travis Holoway, and moderator John Pelletier – offered creative solutions.

The Governor’s Task Force includes representatives from Evers’ administration, Republican and Democratic state lawmakers, retirees, and members of the business community, the financial services industry, and organized labor. It expects to hold public meetings about numerous issues, including the statewide financial impact of Wisconsin's current retirement system as well as employer-sponsored and individual retirement plans.

As part of the task force, Collins will share results from a study conducted by three La Follette School students in 2016. AARP Wisconsin commissioned the team of students, led by Collins, to estimate the costs to states from seniors who retire without adequate savings. Jordan Krieger (MPA ’17), Genevieve Carter (MPA ’17) and Matthew Burr (MPA 18) conducted the study.

The group will also look at best practices in other states and countries and expects to release its recommendations in August 2020.

Collins has received recognition for his work on improving household financial well-being from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Foundation, as well as the UW–Madison Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education.