LT. GOV. LANDRIEU AND QUINN PUSH MILITARY FAMILY RELIEF -- 04/29/2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 29, 2005
LT. GOVERNORS LANDRIEU AND QUINN PUSH MILITARY FAMILY RELIEF
Landrieu invites Quinn to Testify in Support of SB 216
Baton Rouge, LA – On Monday, May 2, Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu welcomes Lieutenant Governor Patrick Quinn (D-Illinois) to the State Capitol to support the creation of the Louisiana Military Family Relief Fund. Authored by State Sen. Reggie Dupre, SB 216 is designed to assist the families of Louisiana National Guard members and reservists who face economic hardship when the breadwinner is on active duty. The law establishes a check-off box on Louisiana income tax returns to enable taxpayers to voluntarily donate to this special fund. Corporations and individuals can make tax-deductible donations to the fund as well.
As author of the original legislation that serves as a model for SB 216, Lt. Governor Quinn testifies at the Finance Committee Meeting today. Quinn says, “Louisiana is a part of a nationwide grassroots movement to create Military Family Relief Funds. This is an issue that cuts across party lines or geography.”
A strong advocate for Louisiana’s National Guard, Lt. Gov. Landrieu states, “Our duty on the homefront is to support the families of our citizen-soldiers as they are called up to duty. This legislation provides a convenient, voluntary and direct way for Louisianans to say thank you to our National Guard and their families.”
Landrieu added, “It’s important to note that every penny raised goes to the families.”
The root of the problem is the disparity between the civilian salary and military paychecks for members of the Louisiana National Guard. Recent research shows that 40 percent of National Guard and Reservist families endure a serious decline in purchasing power because the military pay of the breadwinner is substantially less than their regular salary in civilian life. When the husband or wife is away on active duty, families see as much as a 70 percent drop in household income.
To address this issue, State Sen. Dupre says, “The Military Family Relief Fund will be used to provide financial grants for items such as utility bills, long-distance phone bills, rent, groceries or day care. Military families have plenty to worry about when their loved ones are stationed on the frontlines. They shouldn’t have to worry about paying the rent or utility bill.”
National Guard members and reservists now comprise a larger percentage of frontline fighting forces than in any war in U.S. history (approximately 43 percent in Iraq and 55 percent in Afghanistan). There are now 183,366 National Guard members and reservists on active duty nationwide who leave behind about 300,000 dependents, according to U.S. Defense Department statistics.
Brigadier General Hunter Downer also testifies in support of this legislation. Downer says, “Our National Guard is making significant sacrifices for our freedoms. By creating this special fund, we can say to our brave soldiers, ‘We’ve got your back’.”
Through the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund, more than $2.7 million in grants ranging from $500 to $2,000 have been distributed to more than 5,000 of military families in the state.
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