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Branstad Proposes "A Better Iowa for Veterans"

Press Release

Location: Cedar Rapids, IA

Also releases names of 238 veterans in all 99 counties supporting his bid for governor

At an afternoon news conference at All Veterans Memorial Park in Cedar Rapids today, former Gov. Terry Branstad unveiled policies to make a better Iowa for veterans, including a state income tax exemption for active duty personnel and a new jobs bank to assist veterans in their search for employment.

Branstad, himself a veteran says these policies reflect a growing need within Iowa. The full policy proposal can be found here:

"Since September 11, 2001, Iowa's military members have been called upon for an inordinate amount of duty at a great cost to the soldiers and their families, said Branstad. "At the same time, the Iowa General Assembly has provided a reasonable level of veterans' benefits. Unfortunately, a breakdown occurs in the outreach to and the education of Iowa veterans as to the benefits they have earned and for which they are eligible.

"To serve both current veterans as well as the influx of new veterans, Iowa must be prepared to recognize the sacrifice these veterans have made, provide the services they need, and provide means by which the veterans can be aware of and access these services."

Terry Branstad proposes the following three improvements for Iowa's veterans:

1. Create a state income tax exemption for all active duty personnel serving outside of Iowa

* The men and women who are actively serving in the military come from every community in Iowa and from every walk of life. States such as Texas and Florida do not have state income tax. Other states, such as Kentucky and Oklahoma, have recently passed similar state income tax exemptions for their active duty military residents.
* We must do all we can to ensure that Iowa is competitive in encouraging Iowa soldiers to their home state following deployment. Their decision to remain in Iowa allows them to continue to work, shop, and pay taxes in Iowa as well as continuing to be active in their local communities. This tax exemption rewards these returning soldiers for their service and dedication and willingness to protect the rights and freedom we all enjoy. In addition, it is these very same active duty Iowans that answer the call when state disasters occur.

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Branstad announces a better Iowa for veterans -- Page 2

2. Create the Iowa Veterans Job Bank to more easily match veterans seeking employment with Iowa employers anxious to find employees with the special skills and training they have received during their service to our state and nation.

* The Iowa National Guard has a good system in place for their members to be aware of the benefits available to military members. Organizations like Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) provide services to advocate for the employment rights of veterans. However, many current veterans and active duty members who will soon return from deployment are not as well-informed of where to locate the services they have earned and may need additional help to secure a job. In order to better meet the needs of both active deployed soldiers, as well as those who are returning:

o Governor Branstad proposes the Department of Workforce Development and the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs partner to develop a web portal that will provide an easy method for connecting employers seeking employees with the special skills and training received by Iowa veterans with returning veterans seeking employment in Iowa.

o Governor Branstad will provide leadership to facilitate collaboration amongst the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs, the Iowa Veterans Affairs Commissioners, the Iowa County Veterans Service Officers Association, and all veterans' service organizations with the goal of finding a simpler, easier process to ensure all Iowa veterans are aware of and able to access the services for which they are eligible.

o Governor Branstad urges every Iowan to make an effort to reach out to soldiers in their community to identify and meet the needs of family members of those serving in the military. Examples such as mowing the yard, transporting children, and other tasks to help ease the stress of the deployed soldier's family.

3. Provide better oversight of the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund

* The Iowa Veterans Trust Fund, funded primarily by a specially designated Iowa Lottery ticket, has been a tremendous asset to the veterans of Iowa. Currently the fund contains approximately $9 million and grows by approximately $2 million each year through receipts from the Iowa Lottery and various military license plate fees.
o Governor Branstad will protect the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund proceeds to ensure they are not diverted by the Iowa Legislature for general fund purposes and will be used exclusively for the needs of the veterans of Iowa.

Additionally, today the Governor Branstad 2010 campaign announced veteran leaders in all of Iowa's 99 counties. The list of the names, cities and military background can be found here:

The list contains 238 members from all 99 counties, and includes 11 generals, veterans of WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the first Gulf War, the Afghanistan War and the second Iraq War.

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