|Sen. Hart Requests Action on Vets' Bill
Senator Jack Hart joined Senator Brian A. Joyce, and Veterans and Federal Affairs Co-Chairmen Stephen M. Brewer and Anthony J. Verga to urge the Senate President and Speaker of the House to expedite the passage of an appropriation that would fund new state policy allowing National Guardsman to attend state colleges and universities for free.
While language implementing free tuition and fee waivers for Guardsmen was passed in “The Welcome Home Bill” last November, a standoff has developed between the Board of Higher Education and the Legislature over whether the Board can withhold the waiver program without upfront direct appropriations from the Legislature.
The legislators circulated the letter amid reports of veterans being denied tuition and fee waivers at local colleges.
“It would be shameful if it did not fulfill the commitment we made to our brave men and women in the military,” said Senator Hart.
“It is appalling that our men and women in uniform are being put in the middle of this battle here at home,” said Representative Verga, who is a Navy Veteran. “Everyone involved all must step-up to the plate, and do what should have been done all along --welcome home our Veterans.”
Over 65 legislators to date have signed on to the letter.
In July, the governor filed, H. 5202, An Act Making Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2007 to Provide for National Guard Tuition and Fee Waivers,” currently in the House Ways and Means Committee, after funding for the program was not included in the budget.
“It is unconscionable that eight months after the fanfare surrounding the passage of the “Welcome Home Bill”, we have been unable to fulfill the pledge we made to our National Guardsman,” said Senator Joyce.