Editor’s note: This commentary is by Deb Billado, chairwoman of the Vermont GOP.
This weekend, we remember our fallen heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service of our country — so that we may enjoy our freedoms and security in the greatest country on earth. There is no honor we can bestow on them fitting enough to reward them for their service and sacrifice.
But the sacrifice that our fallen soldiers have made is further extended by the sacrifice that their families make as they try to move on without their loved one. Daughters who grow up without their father to walk them down the aisle, or young men who miss out on their mother son dance. This Memorial Day weekend we also ought to remember not only the sacrifice of our soldiers, but also the sacrifice their families still live with years after the fact.
During this week, I’ve reflected upon how those who have served have made a difference in all of our lives. Unfortunately, in Vermont, we still are severely lacking in the way our state treats our former military members – and even more heart-wrenching their families.
Vermont is one of just three states that fully taxes state military retirement income. Instead of pushing for a full repeal of this tax — like Vermont Republicans and Governor Scott have pushed for over the past several years — Vermont House Democrats were content on just exempting the first $10,000 in military retirees’ income from this tax. This was an effort they proposed early in the session — but failed to follow through with. A little talk — but no follow through.
Not only does this mean that we failed to offer tax relief to our current military members (who can help us fill some of the jobs our employers need to expand and grow) but more importantly as we come up to Memorial Day, this means that the spouses and children left behind, living on the pension of a fallen soldier are also being fully taxed on the “thank you” given to them for their family member’s sacrifice.
In a year with record funds flowing into Vermont, you would think we could offer this modest tax relief to our veterans — and their families — who have already sacrificed so much for our nation and our state. Yet, the Montpelier Majority won’t allow it.
So, this weekend, reflect not only upon the sacrifices of those who we loved and lost, but also on how our state could be doing so much more to honor our servicemen and women.
[To see how your representatives voted on enacting a broader military retirement exemption, click here. A “yes” vote indicates support for tax relief for military retirees. The bill failed 55-79.]