- Budget Message
- Issues in Brief
- Closing the Achievement Gap
- Investing in Job Creation
- Positive Youth Development & Youth Violence Prevention
- Addressing Health Care Costs
- Reforms to Local Housing Authorities
- Initiatives to End Homelessness
- Investing in Community Colleges
- Criminal Justice Reforms
- Support for Our Veterans
- Improving Children, Youth & Families Services
- Investing in Our Communities
- Government Accountability & Transparency
- Social Innovation Financing
- Innovation & Technology
- Modernizing the Bottle Bill
- Health Promotion & Wellness Investments
- Quasi-Public Entity Reforms
- Improved Facilities Management
- Fiscal & Management Reforms
- Budget Recommendations
- Local Aid to Cities and Towns
- Capital Budget and Debt
Support for Our Veterans
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FY 2013 Budget Recommendation:
Issues in Brief
Deval L. Patrick, Governor
Timothy P. Murray, Lt. Governor
Massachusetts is proud to support its veterans, and the Patrick-Murray Administration has worked to protect funding for veteran services and benefits during difficult budget times. The Administration values veterans from all eras and has made supporting veterans a top priority. Because of the level of benefits the Commonwealth provides (such as tuition waivers at state colleges and universities, support for indigent veterans and expansion of the state’s women veterans’ network), Massachusetts is first in the nation in veterans’ services. These services reflect the respect the Patrick-Murray Administration has for all that veterans and their families have done for our country.
The economic downturn has hit veterans hard. In 2010 the nationwide unemployment rate was 11.5% for post 9/11 veterans, with the rate as high as 26.9% for those between the ages of 18-24. These numbers reflect the harsh reality that veterans face here in Massachusetts. This is tragic, not only because of the special contributions of servicemen and women in the military, but also because of the special opportunity presented by the training, discipline and skill sets veterans have to be unique and productive contributors to our workforce.
Under Governor Patrick’s leadership, the Administration launched an aggressive veterans’ employment initiative in November 2011, which is reflected in the FY 2013 budget proposal. Services provided through the Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) and the Soldiers’ Homes in Chelsea and Holyoke have been largely preserved, and in many cases, such as veterans’ annuities and benefits, the FY 2013 budget helps state government meet the growing caseload demands.
Investments to Support Veterans
The Patrick-Murray Administration will continue to invest in programs that serve veterans and military family members in the FY 2013 budget. These programs will seek to employ veterans, improve the health of veterans and ensure veterans receive the benefits they deserve. Some of these initiatives include:
- Reimbursing cities and towns for 100% of homeless veterans’ costs. DVS will now reimburse cities and towns with homeless shelters 100% for the services provided to veterans rather than the 75% previously reimbursed to cities and towns.
- Funding 100% of the benefit costs for newly qualified disabled veterans, Gold Star Parents and spouses. Starting in FY 2013, DVS will no longer pro-rate the first payment made to annuitants. Every veteran or family member will receive a $1 K benefit when they first qualify for the annuities program. The Commonwealth will serve a projected 11,054 veterans in FY 2013 through the annuity program.
- Initiating an innovative partnership for veteran’s jobs training with the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP). The FY 2013 budget will include $500 K to train and employ veterans in manufacturing who qualify for Chapter 115, a state statute that provides benefits for veterans.
- Formalizing the Veterans Quit Smoking Patch Giveaway initiative at the Department of Public Health (DPH). The FY 2013 budget will include $700 K for the Veterans Quit Smoking Patch Giveaway initiative. This funding will make permanent the past successful pilot programs to offer free patches to veterans and military family members to help them quit smoking. This includes counseling through the quit-line and nicotine patches as well as an informational and promotional campaign. DPH anticipates serving 5,000 people through this initiative.
- Permanently exempting Gold Star spouses from property taxes. Spouses of those who have died in active duty will receive an extension to the property tax abatement. Currently, Gold Star Spouses are tax exempt for five years with a cap of $2,500 per year in years six and on. This proposal will make the tax exemption permanent until the Gold Star Spouse dies or remarries.
- Increasing efficiency and delivering better services to veterans by combining three homeless shelter and outreach center appropriations, which cover over 30 outreach centers and homeless shelters, to achieve efficiencies. DVS will implement population-based, regionalized homelessness services. Outreach centers provide services to approximately 2,000 vets each year, while homeless shelters serve 2,936 homeless veterans.
- Preserving unique services offered by the Commonwealth’s two Soldiers’ Homes. The Soldiers’ Homes in Chelsea and Holyoke will receive funding increases over FY 2012 to ensure continued levels of care. Overall, the Soldiers’ Home of Massachusetts receives a 4% increase over FY 2012, and the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke receives a 1% increase over FY 2012. The administrative accounts at Chelsea and Holyoke will increase to support staffing and maintenance needs. The Soldiers’ Homes will continue to serve approximately 430 veterans in long-term care and 330 veterans in dormitories, who require housing and medical assistance.
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