State Senator Patrick O'Connor: Serving Those That Serve Us
Since being sworn in as your State Senator, Patrick has been hard at work serving those that have served us. His first speech in the Massachusetts State Senate was in favor of an initiative to end veteran homelessness in Massachusetts.
My first speech as State Senator addressed the reality of Veteran homelessness in Massachusetts. While the Commonwealth ranks high in Veterans services, there are still around 1200 retired service members in the Commonwealth with no place to call home. To confront this unacceptable statistic, I sponsored an FY17 budget amendment creating a Commission to determine how we can help Veterans experiencing homelessness.
The Fiscal Year 2019 Budget included my amendment awarding Marshfield $100,000 to help fund the design and construction of a new Veterans home, which would be the first in town to provide homeless Veterans a roof and resources to succeed.
The recently passed BRAVE Act will allow Veterans to further reduce their property taxes through a community service exchange program. My amendment to lift the cap on the community service property tax abatement program was included and increased the maximum annual abatement by $500, raising the yearly total to approximately $1,500. This program allows Veterans, or their surrogate, to perform community service in exchange for a reduction of their property taxes.
In the past I have also filed for several tax breaks geared toward relieving Veterans from costs and expenses they shouldn’t have to worry about. Our office filed for tax credits for disabled veterans, Gold Star families, and homeless Veteran housing.
The Municipal Modernization Bill included my amendment enabling incapacitated Veterans to keep their real estate tax abatements if they choose to transfer their property into a trust for their families. This will expand on existing benefits and allow Veterans to have greater flexibility in handling their real estate affairs without losing what they are entitled to.
Our country owes a debt to Veterans, and I believe in working to pay that debt by increasing safety and stability in homeownership.