Missoulian: Montana delegation applauds Senate passage of amendment to hire veterans
All three members of Montana’s congressional delegation praised Thursday’s passage by the Senate of an amendment to encourage the hiring of unemployed military veterans.
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., one of the measure’s lead sponsors, called it “the most significant piece of veterans’ jobs legislation since I’ve been in the Senate.”
“Simply put, we have a responsibility to provide for all veterans and their families,” he said in a speech on the Senate floor. “It is something I have never taken lightly and it is something that continues to motivate me every single day.”
Tester said the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in Montana is about 20 percent.
His amendment, attached to another measure that passed 95-0, provides tax incentives for companies that hire veterans and says military job experience for veterans shall count when vets seek employment in civilian jobs such as truck drivers, paramedics, mechanics and engineers.
The bill would give tax credits of up to $9,600 to companies hiring disabled vets who have been jobless at least six months. President Barack Obama included the tax breaks in his $447 billion jobs plan, which has otherwise gone nowhere so far in Congress.
The bill also would create a new tax credit of up to $2,400 for employers hiring veterans out of work for four weeks or more. In addition, it would expand education and job training benefits for veterans, improve employment counseling they receive while still in the military and provide an extra year of job services for disabled veterans.
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., applauded the bill’s inclusion of a version of a tax credit that he had proposed last year.
It provides up to $5,600 in credits to businesses that hire veterans who have job hunted at least half a year.
“This bill will make it easier for businesses to hire veterans and help make veterans more competitive in the job market, which is particularly important in Montana, because we have the fourth-highest unemployment rate among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in the country,” he said.