Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
Pennsylvania's Democratic U.S. senator is taking another whack at knocking down the unemployment rate among military veterans with a proposed tax credit.
Sen. Bob Casey said Wednesday the tax credit would help veterans or their spouses purchase franchises. They would be able to write off 25 percent of the franchise fee, or up to $100,000.
In a conference call with reporters, Casey likened the tax credit to the GI bill funding veterans' college education, saying it's another way to help veterans establish themselves as civilians.
"I believe that when veterans make that transition from their service we should be concerned about ways to make sure that they have economic opportunity like this bill will provide," said Casey.
Alisa Harrison, spokeswoman for the International Franchise Association, said veterans have a good track record operating franchises.
"They make great owners," she said. "They're used to following a system. They really understand processes and that's what the franchise model is all about." The International Franchise Association supported Casey's bill last time he introduced it. Neither Harrison nor Casey could point to a specific reason the bill failed in the last congress.
One veterans program director said any tax credit aimed at veterans and their families is welcome.
"We see veterans here from the full gamut - all the way up to masters degrees that are retired, senior NCOs, and officers that are having a hard time finding work opportunities," said Tim Mesevre, executive director of the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service and Education Center.
But Mesvre added facilities like his and the veterans who rely on them are facing a more immediate challenge: automatic federal spending cuts. He said the cuts have put job training and placement programs for vets at risk.
"It's definitely a tight grant cycle right now due to sequestration," said Mesevre. "So, realistically at this point, we're unclear if we're going to have Department of Labor grants come 1 July."
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