ROMNEY EXTENDS SUPPORT TO PUBLIC EMPLOYEES ON MILITARY DUTY
Governor Mitt Romney today signed a bill that extends the law protecting public employees from a loss of pay if they are called to active military duty.
"From the day that the colonists in Massachusetts took up their arms to secure their liberty to the present day, Americans have had to fight to protect the freedom that makes our country great," said Romney. "The men and women who have volunteered and who are now serving our country in the global war on terror deserve our support."
Romney extended a law that provides public employees who have been called to active military leave since September 11, 2001 with the differential cost between their military and state salaries. Public employees on active military duty will not lose any seniority, accrued vacation leave, sick leave, personal leave, compensation time or earned overtime.
A new provision of the bill allows state employees to receive more of their regular pay. Currently, the state deducts allowances employees receive from the military for family separation, food or cost of living from their state pay. Romney said that under the new law the state will no longer subtract these allowances from an individual's paycheck.
"Military service members and their families undergo hardships during deployment and this bill will help ensure that anxiety about financial loss is not added to their burdens," said Brigadier General Oliver J. Mason, Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard.
Under the law, cities and towns may elect to make up the financial difference of their municipal employee's regular pay.
"This legislation sends a strong message to those who serve our country that we in Massachusetts commend their efforts and actions, and recognize that the sacrifices theymake during their time of service should not include their wages, their seniority, or their benefits," said State Senator Joan Menard, who filed the bill.
There are approximately 100 state employees who are currently away on military leave and are eligible for payment under this bill. For example, if the salary for an individual enlisted military is $32,000 and their state salary is $50,000, the individual would be compensated for $18,000 to help ease the burden of paying bills while serving our nation on the war against terror.
Following the bill signing, Romney was awarded with the Seven Seals Award by the Massachusetts Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).
The ESGR State Chair Kenneth Forchielli presented Romney with the Seven Seals Award, the highest state award given by the organization, and thanked him for recognizing the sacrifice employees of the Commonwealth and their families have made to defend our nation.
"It is very fitting that Governor Romney receives the Seven Seals Award on the same day that he signs legislation to continue pay differentials for state employees mobilized in support of on-going military operations here and abroad," said Forchielli. "This is just another example of the strong support Governor Romney has shown for the men and women of Massachusetts who serve our nation and state in the Guard and Reserve."
The law Romney signed in November 2003 was set to expire on September 11, 2005 and his action today will extend it until September 2008.