Harrisburg, November 19, 2013 – State Sen. Wayne D. Fontana (D-Allegheny) today unveiled legislation that would increase the veterans’ preference points in Civil Service testing from 10 to 15 points.

The Fontana legislation, introduced as part of a previous jobs initiative, would complement the 16-bill package unveiled by fellow Senate Democrats today that would help returning war veterans return to civilian life. The overall package would invest $61.1 million to help veterans and their family members obtain good jobs, education, training, housing, financial aid and counseling services.

“All of these bills are aimed at helping veterans take the next step in their lives and careers,” Fontana said. “All of these bills represent a tangible way to thank veterans for their service to our country – and welcome them home to a promising and productive future in our communities.”

Fontana’s legislation, which is revenue neutral, would increase the existing veterans’ preference in the Civil Service law from 10 to 15.

Some of the other bills would:

  • Generate $40 million in bonds to provide bonuses to Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans;
  • Establish a peer-to-peer counseling program for veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and other war-related maladies;
  • Invest $20 million for veterans’ housing projects and give veterans preference in public housing;
  • Provide housing assistance grants to homeless veterans, and help veterans make down payments and closing costs on home purchases;
  • Double educational assistance monies and expand the timetable;
  • Expand eligibility for disabled veterans in the state’s income tax exemption program; and
  • Initiate a task force to study unique issues that female veterans face, including accessibility and quality of care.

In addition to the Fontana bill that was part of their “PA Works” job creation initiative, Democrats previously introduced bills that would develop a training program to help veterans start small businesses; create a $5 million veteran-owned business loan guarantee; provide new tax credits for hiring unemployed veterans; and establish new standards to incorporate education and training in the military into education credits to help veterans get a degree as quickly as possible.

Pennsylvania is home to 995,000 of the nation’s 22 million veterans. Fontana noted that in the past 12 years since our soldiers were first deployed to the Middle East, more than 2.6 million American veterans have returned home.

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