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Monday, December 19, 2005

Veteran initiatives

Lots of initiatives unveiled today for veterans and members of the military. How do they stack up?

• "Support Our Troops" license plates

Generally, I don't like our license plates turned into anything other than a way to identify cars, but I guess this isn't too terrible.

• State tax exemptions for military retirement pay

I don't know enough about this one. I don't like special tax exemptions, so if there aren't similar exemptions for other kinds of retirement pay, I guess I would have to say this one is no good.

• An additional $3 million a year for a program called State Soldiers Assistance, which acts as a safety net for veterans and their families who may need emergency services such as therapy or temporary financial assistance

Great news. Too many people who are homeless or who suffer from mental illness are veterans, and ignoring them after their service to our country is shameful.

• An additional $3 million to county veterans affairs offices throughout the state

Ditto the last one.

• The establishment of a Military and Veterans Support Cabinet that will reach across state agencies to help veterans and their families

No real problems here.

• In-state tuition rates for nonresident soldiers and veterans

Again, no problems.

• Delayed tuition payments for veterans who are awaiting federal GI benefits

Hey, don't punish veterans for the slowness of the bureaucracy.

• New rules that make it easier to transfer military educational experience for training and education credit at colleges

Transfers are always good.

• On-campus veterans assistance offices to provide a coordinated program for veterans continuing their higher educations

Education is a real investment, so it's nice to see it treated as such.

All in all, not a bad set of programs.


At 12:52 AM, January 06, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two comments:
* on the exempting military retirement pay from MN state income tax. A few years back, MN moved a bit forward by stopping the taxation of military (active duty) pay earned by MN residents while they were serving outside the state -- matching the policies of many other states (such as, California). Meanwhile, many military consider retiring after their 20-30 years of service to places like FL and TX because they like the fact that such states do not tax their retired pay (maybe they like warm weather, too). So MN dropping state income tax on military retirement will put the state on an equal footing -- talented soldiers who like the four seasons may move to MN and contribute to the economy
* on allowing in-state tuition for veterans (before 1 year residing in the state): this allows a former service member to spend his education benefits from the VA by going to school right away ... otherwise have to either wait 1 year or pay the much higher tuition rate

At 9:52 PM, February 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ABout 23 states exempt military retirement pay, including the 7 (I think) which have no state income tax. The argument is always that it's economic development--and there seems to be a movement by vets' groups to exempt military retirement pay generally. Maine is looking at it this year, and Maryland is expected to pass it. But here's the news--only about 6 percent of vets are retired military (with 20 or more years' active service). It's an elite group with higher income than most. And the expense of military retirement is increasing because military pay has increased dramatically in the past few years. Soldiers and sailors can retire after 20 years in--at age 38--at half pay. At 30 years' service they get 75 percent. For a colonel or equivelent retiring in 2005 after 26 years of service, that's $66,000 a year to start, at age 44. Then the pay is increased each year to match inflation. The COLA was 4.1 percent last year. All this costs taxpayers. Military retirement pay alone--not countiong disability pay or veterans benefits or the "tricare-for-life" medical insurance--will cost the federal government some $419 billion during the next 10 years. So you gotta ask yourself: is an additional benefit for a mostly well-off elite slice of military vets worth the cost to everyone else?

At 12:02 AM, November 14, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you mean mostly well-off elite slice of military vets? Not everyone retires as an active duty colonel after 26 years of service as your example would have us believe. And trust me, most of that minority elite can afford to move to another state for retirement.

The vast majority of military retirees and future retirees in this state are enlisted soldiers between the ranks of SSG (E6) and MSG(E8) that spent 20 plus years earning a part-time retirement in the MN National Guard. Their retirement varies depending on how much prior active duty they served, but trust me, it ain't very much. Many of them served in Vietnam and many are now serving in Iraq and Afganistan.

You are using the few elite officers to try to make a case that the vast majority of soldiers are well-off. It just isn't so.

With due respect, maybe you should do your twenty years and then comment. And yes, I am an enlisted retiree.


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