(Host) The Senate has advanced a bill that gives a $2,000 income tax break to companies that hire unemployed veterans recently returned from war.
The bill has already cleared the House and is a top priority for Governor Peter Shumlin. He called for the legislation after learning that nearly one-third of returning Vermont veterans are unemployed.
But even the supporters of the bill say it offers little more than symbolic support. Windsor Senator Richard McCormack says the Finance Committee did not hear from employers about whether they will use the tax credit.
(McCormack) "There is some suspicion on the committee that it may in fact not have much of an effect. The intention here is a display of gratitude and respect to our returning veterans."
(Host) But Windham Senator Peter Galbraith says the Legislature could do better.
(Galbraith) "I frankly think that empty gestures like this are not going to do much to help the veterans and it comes at a cost of other programs that we have in our state – mental health services, education and the like. And so if we want to do something to help our veterans – and I think we should – let’s do something that makes a difference."
(Host) Galbraith is the only senator who voted against the measure. He says the main cause of veteran unemployment is a lack of education and job skills. He says the Legislature should focus more on those areas.