JOHNSTON, RI – Continuing his #RIMomentum Tour, Governor Dan McKee was joined by legislators, Veterans, military families, Veterans advocates and stakeholders to recognize passage of legislative and budget initiatives which support and benefit those who bravely served in the United States armed forces. Most significantly, Rhode Island will no longer be a regional outlier with passage of Article 6 of the FY 2023 budget which ends state taxation of military service pensions. Prior to passage of the budget, Rhode Island was only one of four states that did not provide a specific state income tax preference for military pension income.
The bill-signing ceremony was hosted by Operation Stand Down Rhode Island, Rhode Island’s primary nonprofit resource for homeless and at-risk veterans since its founding in 1993, and was attended by dozens of Rhode Island Veterans and active-duty Military and their families.
“As I travel the state, talking with Veterans, active duty, guard and reservists, and military families is always a highpoint,” said Governor McKee. “Veterans want to continue to make the Ocean State their home and remain a part of the communities and places that matter to them. Now, when military retirees look at where they want to move after service, Rhode Island will be at the top of that list.”
“As a first-generation American, I’m keenly aware that the life my family and I have enjoyed is only possible through the sacrifices of our veterans,” said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos. “The bills we are signing into law today will help Rhode Island repay the tremendous debt we owe those who have served our country. I am grateful to our colleagues in government for their support, and I look forward to continuing to use my role as Lieutenant Governor to support Rhode Island’s active service members, our veterans, and their families.”
“Ending taxation of military service pensions is not only the right thing to in recognition of the many Rhode Islanders who fought courageously for our freedom, but it’s also an investment in our state’s workforce,” said Office of Veterans Services Director Kasim Yarn. “This change will allow us to retain top-tier talent which can drive Rhode Island’s economy forward. Military retirees bring a wealth of knowledge and backgrounds, benefitting Rhode Island in innumerable ways.”
“Today is a great day because Rhode Island will finally join the majority of the states in giving veterans much-deserved tax relief on their military pensions. This is the fair and right thing to do in order to recognize and show our appreciation for the brave men and women who dedicated their lives to fighting for our safety and freedom. I thank Speaker Shekarchi and Governor McKee for supporting these worthy veteran initiatives, but most importantly, I thank our veterans. I thank them for their bravery, selflessness and dedication to ensure that all of us are able to stand here today in a country that represents freedom and democracy,” said Rep. Samuel A. Azzinaro, Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee (D-Dist. 37, Westerly).
“Our military retirees have sacrificed so much for our country and I believe it is not only fair, but, also our moral obligation to honor their service by keeping their pension dollars in their pockets where it belongs. I am thankful that this year we finally acknowledged the brave and selfless service of our retired military men and women by allowing them to keep the benefits they so rightfully earned and deserved by serving our country and preserving our freedom. Thanks to our veterans, we live in the best country in the world and I am happy that their service is being recognized and appreciated today” said Sen. Walter S. Felag, Chairman of the Senate Special Legislation & Veterans’ Affairs Committee (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton).
“Governor McKee has brought to the office of Governor a passion to improve the lives of our military members, retirees, and veterans. The Governor’s commitment combined with strong pro veteran legislative leadership in the Rhode Island House and Senate lead to the passage of long awaited and overdue legislation,” said Erik B. Wallin, Esq, Executive Director of Operation Stand Down Rhode Island. “The bills being highlighted, particularly the exemption of military retirement pay from taxation, substantively and symbolically recognize the value of our veteran’s past service and their continued contribution to Rhode Island and the communities they live in.”
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than half of military retirees are under the age of 65. The U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Actuary, reported a total of 5,252 military retirees living in Rhode Island in federal fiscal year 2019; of those, 4,845 were paid by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Other legislation signed today includes:
· H7824A [r20.rs6.net] (McLaughlin) and S2995 [r20.rs6.net] (Seveney): This legislation was submitted at the request of the Office of Veterans Services and allows recipients of the Purple Heart Medal to receive up to two sets of special motor vehicle registration plates indicating the owner of the vehicle(s) is a Purple Heart recipient.
· H7714A [r20.rs6.net] (Azzinaro) and S2425A [r20.rs6.net] (Picard): This legislation makes it a crime to knowingly benefit from false statements about military service.
· H7514 [r20.rs6.net] (Edwards) and S2136 [r20.rs6.net] (Felag): This legislation creates a special motor vehicle plate for recipients of the United States Bronze Star Medal.
· H7136 [r20.rs6.net] (Alzate) and S2996 [r20.rs6.net] (Ruggerio): This legislation waives adoption fees to adopt a dog or cat from a public animal shelter for a Veteran.
At the Rhode Island Office of Veterans Services, case managers help Veterans and their loved ones with a broad range of federal, state, nonprofit and community-based programs through RIServes, a coordinated referral network with over 150 provider-partners.
RIVETS case managers can be reached through the RIServes intake form at vets.ri.gov/riserves [r20.rs6.net] or by calling 401-921-2119.