As Labor Day nears, California’s legislature is considering bills to help veterans returning home from active duty rejoin the workforce.
California is home to a growing population of more than 1.8 million veterans. With overseas operations in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down and more troops headed home, the number of veterans seeking jobs in California will continue to rise.
But the unemployment rate for California veterans is already substantially higher than the national average, according to a U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee report.
In 2014, 7.4 percent of California veterans were unemployed compared to 5.3 percent nationally. The jobless rate for post 9/11 veterans is even higher, 10.1 percent in California compared to 7.2 percent nationally.
Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, chairs the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee and she has made it her mission to help returning veterans find work.
This year, she authored legislation to broaden the group of veterans eligible for the new hiring tax credit created by the legislature in 2013 and to expand the state’s Work for Warriors program.
Assembly Bill 931, also known as the “Hire a Hero Tax Credit,” increases incentives for employers who hire veterans. Tax credits are a direct, dollar-for-dollar reduction in a company’s tax bill, so they reduce the effective cost of hiring employees.
AB 931 would expand the timeframe for veterans who have separated from active duty to be eligible for a hiring tax credit, making them more attractive hires for potential employers. It would also increase the number of veterans in California included in this group by changing the eligibility rules.
AB 930 would expand the successful Work for Warriors program currently operated by the California Military Department to all current and former members of the Armed Services, as well as their spouses and dependents. The bill would also facilitate a partnership with the Employment Development Department to provide continued efficiency in helping connect unemployed veterans with jobs.
Irwin said Work for Warriors is the most efficient veteran job placement program in the country with a per placement cost of less than $650.
Both bills were passed unanimously by the Assembly and the Senate Appropriations Committee. They are awaiting a full floor vote in the Senate.
Those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country shouldn’t struggle to find jobs to support their families once their military service ends.
California employers should take advantage of tax breaks offered by the state and federal government and make it a priority to hire as many veterans as possible.
We urge the legislature to pass AB 930 and AB 931 and for California Gov. Jerry Brown to sign them.