New York state’s veterans are the beneficiaries of new job tax credits and a cemetery.
The recently enacted state budget includes money to encourage small businesses to hire veterans and creates a state veterans’ cemetery.
New York joins 42 other states that have a state cemetery for veterans. New York’s cemetery will be overseen and managed by the state’s Division of Veterans Affairs, which is responsible for creating, maintaining and caring for the property.
One of the major proponents of this project was Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, who is chairman of the Senate’s Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee. A member of the Air Force, he also championed this cause while in the Assembly.
“Words cannot describe how excited I am that this dream is finally becoming a reality. By creating this program our state is showing its commitment to extending the honor of a burial to the men and women who bravely served this country,” Ball said in a statement shortly after the Senate passed the budget bill with this provision. “Tens of thousands of veterans are simply underserved at this point and this legislation will now change that.”
A location for the cemetery has not been chosen, but two years ago the Putnam County Legislature volunteered to donate a piece of property.
Neil Gross, Jr., vice commander of the Military Order of Purple Hearts Chapter 21 in Cortlandt, said the program will allow for the creation of a cemetery that is close to home for veterans.
“This is a very fitting tribute to all veterans statewide,” Gross said in a statement.
A tax check-off box on state tax returns and a Veterans Remembrance and Cemetery Maintenance and Operation Fund will be created to help offset the costs of the cemetery.
‘Best shot’ at jobs
The state budget also includes a tax break for small businesses that hire returning or wounded soldiers.
State Sen. David Carlucci, D-New City, said this measure is important considering the high unemployment rates veterans are dealing with in New York. “Right now, veterans coming back from Afghanistan are suffering an unemployment rate that’s double that of their civilian counterparts. In fact, in many regions of the state it’s over 10 percent for our veterans,” he said during the budget debate.
“This veterans tax credit I believe will go a long way in helping sweeten the deal to make sure that we give our veterans the best shot possible at getting the highest quality jobs possible,” Carlucci said. “So this veterans tax credit, it just doesn’t give a blanket tax credit, but it rewards high-quality, high-paying jobs to those employers.”
The credit for a business will equal 10 percent of a veteran’s salary or 15 percent of a disabled veteran’s salary. The credit is capped at $5,000 for non-disabled veterans and $15,000 for disabled veterans. An employee would have to work at least a year for a company before the employer is eligible to receive the credit, which applies to veterans after Sept. 11, 2001.
Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, said during the budget debate that this credit ensures New York is doing everything it can to help the men and women who have served this country. Ball added in a news statement, “This bill will create a great incentive for businesses to hire and support those heroes that are so fully deserving.”
Carlucci predicted that other states would likely follow in New York’s footsteps on this issue.