This past Friday, Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler spoke about creating a state-sponsored plan looking to help uncovered workers save for their retirement. With workers known as “baby boomers” coming upon retirement age, more than half are without sufficient savings, and Wheeler stressed that time is of the essence.

Reports the Portland Tribune, “With the imminent retirement of workings in the post-World War II generation known as the baby boomers – more than half without adequate savings – and with half of Oregon’s private-sector workers having no access to any savings plan, Wheeler says there’s no time to waste,” of the urgency of establishing retirement savings programs.

“We need to act now — and quickly — to reduce the impact of what I believe is a generational crisis,” he said during his speech in Portland. “It’s one that threatens to throw seniors into poverty, disrupt entire families, and affect the overall economy.”

Joining Wheeler at the City Club of Portland forum were two prominent national figures, Ken Mehlman and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Townsend is chief executive of the Center for Retirement Incentives at Georgetown University and was the Democratic lieutenant governor of Maryland from 1995 through 2003. Ken Mehlman is a member of international private equity firm KKR & Co., and a former manager of President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign.

Mehlman stated at the event that people should not expect the federal government to act due to partisan gridlock, and that people like Wheeler would be needed to instigate positive change within state governments. “The best ideas are not coming out of Washington,” said Mehlman. “That place is stuck. The best ideas are coming from state leaders.”

Oregon joins the twenty-five other states that are looking at strengthening retirement security plans for their citizens. “Not every state is going to come to the same conclusions about how best to address this crisis,” Wheeler says. “But states are going to lead the change.”