Former Gov. Mitch Daniels' Newsroom

Contact: Jane Jankowski
Phone: 317/232/1622

For Immediate Release: Nov 10, 2006
Daniels announces initiatives for Hoosier veterans and military families

INDIANAPOLIS (November 10, 2006) - Governor Mitch Daniels chose the Veterans' Day holiday to announce a set of initiatives designed to help Hoosier veterans and military families as a part of his 2007 legislative agenda.

"Hoosiers revere our veterans as deeply as anyone in America, but Indiana law, ironically, does not fully reflect that reverence. We must improve our tax and benefit systems to honor more fully the sacrifices these patriots made for us all," Daniels said.

The governor's proposals include:

Exempt all military pay earned while serving in combat theater from Indiana state income tax. This initiative would apply to all active duty, reserve, and National Guard personnel who file Indiana tax returns.

Increase the maximum allowable state income tax deductions on military pay (including retirement pay and survivor's benefits) from $2,000 to $5,000 per year. The current allowable state income deduction on active or reserve military pay, retirement pay, or survivor's benefits is capped at $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple filing jointly. The governor's initiative increases the allowable deduction limits to $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for couples filing jointly. This increase restores the full value of the deduction, which has been eroded by inflation since it was first introduced in 1977.

Provide state matching funds of up to $350,000 annually for Indiana Military Families Relief Fund. This will dedicate state funds of up to $350,000 to match all private contributions to the Indiana Military Families Relief Fund as well as revenue generated for the fund from the sale of Hoosier veteran specialty plates. Senate Enrolled Act 75, part of the governor's 2006 legislative agenda, established the fund, which provides grants for the families of Hoosier Guard members and reservists who have been called to active duty since September 11, 2001.

Extend delayed high school diploma program. Hoosier military veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars who left high school before graduation to perform military service will now be eligible to receive a high school diploma. This program is currently available to Hoosier veterans of World War II.

Two other initiatives in the governor's agenda were developed in conjunction with the National Governor's Association and U.S. Department of Defense to work toward consistent and uniform policies to support members of the military and their families:

Allow in-state tuition rates for out-of-state soldiers assigned to Indiana. This would allow service members and families assigned to Indiana to be immediately eligible for in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities, and would enable children enrolled in Indiana institutions to continue paying in-state rates even if parents are transferred elsewhere.

Establish a spouse employment program. This program will work with relevant professional licensing organizations to expedite the process through which military spouses must go to more efficiently transfer professional licenses such as teaching, nursing, real estate, and others to be recognized in Indiana from their previous states of residence.

The Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) estimates that there are currently 546,000 veterans in Indiana. Approximately 16,000 Hoosiers are currently on active duty with an additional 4,000 reservists. Nearly 10,000 members of the Indiana National Guard have been deployed overseas since September 11, 2001, with an estimated 2,000 guardsmen currently serving overseas.

"I applaud the governor's efforts to further enhance the patriotic treatment, for which Hoosiers are noted, of all of Indiana's military veterans," said Indiana Department of The American Legion Adjutant Steve Short. "My hope is that through cooperation between the governor?s office and the General Assembly, these measures will continue to appropriately recognize the service and sacrifice of our veterans and their families."

Since 2005, the governor has spearheaded a number of initiatives aimed to help Indiana's veterans and military families, including the creation of two veterans specialty plates, restoring a fee remission program at state colleges and universities for disabled veterans, regardless of the extent of their disability, and a ban on protests within 200 yards of military funerals.

In April, Governor Daniels visited Hoosier troops stationed in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan to show his support for their service. Daniels also visited Hoosier soldiers at the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) during his June trade mission to Japan and Korea.