New Jersey's 1st Legislative District

Senator Michael Testa

Senator Michael Testa

Testa & Gopal Unveil Bipartisan Bill Package Supporting Active Military Members and Veterans

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To make New Jersey more welcoming to military personnel and veterans, Senator Mike Testa and Senator Vin Gopal have introduced an extensive bipartisan package of six bills to help the men and women who serve our nation and their families.

To make New Jersey more welcoming to military personnel and veterans, Sen. Mike Testa and Sen. Vin Gopal introduced a bipartisan package of six bills to help the men and women who serve our nation and their families. (Flickr)

“The legislation in this bundle will provide assistance to New Jersey veterans in a myriad of categories, including educational opportunities, incentives for buying homes and settling in our state, and help with purchasing and starting  a business,” said Testa (R-1). “These benefits are hard-earned and well-deserved for those who put their lives on the line to serve the United States. The goal is to help make New Jersey the best place to live for veterans, and to thank them for their commitment and sacrifices.”

One of the bills, S-3574, would supplement New Jersey’s First-Time Homebuyer Mortgage Program and the Down Payment Assistance Program, providing additional home ownership assistance for certain military service members. The measure would permit the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) to award an additional $5,000 to eligible service members or surviving spouses for down payment and closing cost assistance on primary residences.

To qualify, service members must have served in active duty following the attacks of September 11, 2001, or during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm of the Persian Gulf Conflict and have been discharged under honorable conditions.

“This bipartisan bill package is meant to do what is right for the heroes that have served our country,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “Our veterans deserve to have opportunities available to them whether that be for furthering their education, investing in property in our state, or working towards starting up their own business. We thank the men, women and families of those served for the sacrifices they have endured to keep us all safe, and these pieces of legislation will help veterans achieve their goals.”

Veterans who dream of running their own business could benefit from S-3571, a bill requiring the Economic Development Authority to establish a dedicated program and grant funding to help approved veterans purchase a franchise.

Military heroes who earned a Medal of Honor or Purple Heart are venerated by Testa and Gopal’s bill, S-3569. Public institutions of higher education would be required to waive tuition and fees for these dignified medal recipients who are seeking to attend undergraduate classes.

“As New Jerseyans, we live in a great state with so much to offer, and we are residents of the greatest nation on the globe,” Testa noted. “We owe all of it and more to the brave men and women who put their lives on hold and volunteer in our Armed Forces. These bipartisan bills acknowledge our appreciation of the special individuals who answer the call to serve.”

Additional legislation in the package include:

  • S-3573 – Increases the annual payment made by the State to a veteran with certain specified service-connected injuries and the surviving spouse of that veteran from $750 to $3,000 annually.
  • S-3575 – Establishes the New Jersey Military Family Relief Fund, providing for a designation on the State gross income tax return to permit taxpayers to make voluntary contributions to a fund supporting military families.
  • S-3576 – Establishes the New Jersey Veteran Grant Program in Higher Education Student Assistance Authority to assist veterans in achieving their higher education goals.

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