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North Dakota Senate passes income tax reduction bill for vets

Yet another bill to enhance the quality of life for military personnel in North Dakota passed the state Senate on Friday, when legislators voted to reduce income taxes for veterans.

Steve Vetter
Rep. Steve Vetter, R-Grand Forks

Yet another bill to enhance the quality of life for military personnel in North Dakota passed the state Senate on Friday, when legislators voted to reduce income taxes for veterans.

House Bill 1053 from Rep. Steve Vetter, R-Grand Forks, applies to benefits received by retired military personnel for their time in the U.S. military. It would also apply to those benefits received by a veteran's surviving spouse.

Vetter has previously called his proposal an investment, despite a fiscal note from the state tax commissioner's office saying the deduction will take $3 million from the general fund for the 2019-2021 biennium.

Sen. Scott Meyer, who carried Vetter's bill on the Senate floor and testified in its support, described a ceremony legislators held Friday morning in Memorial Hall for Vietnam War Veterans Day.

"There were many tears shed, there's many veterans here, and I can't think of a more appropriate day to have this bill on our floor," Meyer said.

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As Vetter had said before the House passed his bill in February, Meyer told the Senate the bill would help North Dakota overcome a "workforce shortage," citing a 2.6 percent unemployment rate in December 2018, when Meyer reported the state had 13,000 open jobs.

Military veterans have experience in cybersecurity, maintenance, security, technology and more, Meyer said, making them qualified for several of the state's openings.

There are 5,430 military retirees in North Dakota, Vetter said in February. With the deduction Vetter is proposing, each of those veterans would receive a reduction of about $550.

"The average retiree is about 38 to 50 (years old)," Vetter said. "Let's just assume they get a job paying them $60,000. Most retirees are married and have dependents-let's say the rest of the family makes another $30,000. That's $2,500 in state income tax, worth five times the amount of this reduction. ... It pays for itself several times over," Vetter said.

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