FONDA - U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer joined local officials and veterans Saturday at a local manufacturing business where he revealed his plan to prioritize the extension of tax credits for combat veterans are set to expire at the end of this year.
"These vital tax credits are proven successes in helping businesses like Keymark hire more veterans, and we cannot allow them to come to an end," Schumer said. "Renewing the tax credits isn't just the smart thing to do but the right thing to do to honor the sacrifices they have made for our country."
Schumer, D-N.Y., said these credits have proven success in incentivizing companies to hire veterans across the U.S.
U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer speaks Saturday at Keymark Corp. in Fonda about his plan to prioritize the extension of the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors Tax Credits, which are set to expire at the end of this year. (The Leader-Herald/Levi Pascher)
Keymark, an aluminum extruder and the largest private employer in Montgomery County, already employs 74 veterans, 43 of them at the company's facilities in Fonda, Schumer said.
At a news conference Saturday, Schumer praised Keymark for its goal to hire more veterans in the future.
He said veterans come back from overseas having learned about teamwork, the chain of command, following orders and getting the job done without complaint - traits that employers in the state want their workers to have.
"Our service members have spent months and sometimes years away from their family, and they shouldn't have to spend months and years on the unemployment line," he said.
Schumer said he decided to prioritize extending the tax credits in light of the disappointing unemployment numbers for veterans in upstate New York.
After his address, he said there is a concern among his Senate colleagues that the credits will not be renewed before the program expires in the "fiscal cliff" scenario.
"They are caught up in this fiscal cliff fight, and if that fight continues, I don't know if we will pass these tax exemptions, so I am worried about this," he said. "This is another reason why we can't go over this Fiscal Cliff because of all these wonderful things out there that need to be renewed."
He said there are 950 unemployed veterans in the Mohawk Valley-which includes the counties of Montgomery, Schenectady, Fulton, Schoharie and Herkimer. Montgomery County alone has more than 200 unemployed veterans.
Schumer highlighted that he fought to include the tax credits in the Senate tax extenders package that was drafted earlier this fall, and he will continue the fight to pass the credits before they expire this year.
According to a news release from Schumer's office, businesses that hire veterans who have been searching for work for at least four weeks but less than six months are eligible for a tax credit of up to $2,400 per veteran hired.
A company that hires a veteran who has been looking for a job for at least six months receives a tax credit worth up to $5,600, and businesses that hire veterans who have been looking for work six months and have a service-related disability are eligible for the maximum tax credit - $9,600.
The senator said tax-exempt organizations also can receive incentives of up to $6,240 if they hire a disabled veteran who has been unemployed for six months or longer.
He said Keymark can save $105,000 in tax credits from the 11 veterans it hired this year.
Schumer said the nationwide unemployment rate for veterans returning from war is 16. 7 percent, and the rate for those returning from Afghanistan and Iraq is 12.1 percent.
Schumer's news release cites data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing 21.9 percent of male veterans aged 18 to 24 who have served since Sept. 11, 2001, were unemployed last year.
"We want to make sure our veterans are hired, and there is nothing like a little financial incentive to make sure businesses hire our vets," Schumer said.
Levi Pascher can be reached by email at email@example.com.