Governor Pat Quinn today signed a new law that will help more Illinois Veterans find employment following their service to our country, an important measure he proposed during his State of the State address in February.
The Hiring Veterans Tax Credit will provide a significant additional tax credit for every unemployed Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan a company hires, which will help businesses create jobs and give those jobs to the Veterans who have sacrificed so much in serving our state and our country. Unemployment for young returning Veterans in America was 30% in 2011.
"Veterans are committed, disciplined and experienced, and they know how to accomplish a mission," Governor Quinn said. "We need these heroes in our workplaces, and increasing the Hiring Veterans Tax Credit will create more jobs for veterans and grow the economy in Illinois."
Senate Bill 3241, sponsored by State Sen. John Sullivan (D-Rushville) and State Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Belleville), raises the Illinois Hiring Veterans tax credit from 10% to 20% of annual wages and more than quadruples the annual cap from $1,200 to $5,000. Many of these post-9/11 Veterans struggle with higher rates of unemployment compared with their civilian counterparts.
In addition, the new law also honors Gold Star families of fallen heroes across Illinois by making them eligible for the same property tax-relief available in some communities to the families of fallen firefighters and police officers. The law allows counties or municipalities the option of reducing or eliminating property taxes for a surviving spouse of a fallen Illinois soldier killed in Iraq or Afghanistan in the way some choose to honor the families of fallen firefighters and police officers.
"We have a tremendous responsibility to honor the service and sacrifices Veterans and their families have made since 9/11," said IDVA Director Erica Borggren. "These measures will go a long way towards helping Veterans and the families of fallen service members begin the process of rebuilding their lives."
President Obama recently announced that more than one million service members will leave the military between now and 2016, with many thousands returning home to Illinois. Many of these young post-9/11 Veterans will be returning to sectors of the economy that were hardest hit by the Great Recession including construction, manufacturing, and transportation industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Veterans ages 18-24 nationwide have an unemployment rate roughly twice as high as their civilian peers.
Governor Quinn launched "Operation Home Front" while he was Illinois State Treasurer to give National Guard members and reservists a tool to inform them about their rights during the Gulf War. Most recently, the Governor has expanded Operation Home Front to be a place where active servicemembers and Veterans can learn about the resources available to them and their families, and a place for the public to learn about different ways they can support our troops.
First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama recently joined Governor Quinn as he signed a new law designed to help military spouses more easily find employment when they move to Illinois for military service by granting expedited professional licenses. Illinois is the 23rd state to adopt such legislation.
For more information about benefits for our Veterans, visit Veterans.Illinois.gov or call the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs at 217-782-6641 or 312-814-2460.