September 12, 2019

Governor Lamont, along with state and veterans officials, are highlighting three new laws taking effect on October 1 that are designed to support Connecticut veterans. All three; Public Act 19-129 on job training programs, Public Act 19-33 expanding eligibility for veterans to receive certain services, and Public Act 19-171 on property tax relief, were approved unanimously by the state legislature during its 2019 session, which ended in June.

One of the new laws, Public Act 19-129, seeks to address an issue much discussed at the legislature – the manufacturing gap. Connecticut currently has 13,000 – 15,000 open advanced manufacturing jobs, and factoring in retirements and expected growth in companies like Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky, and Electric Boat, the demand is expected to grow to as many as 35,000 in the next two decades, according to officials.

The new law requires The WorkPlace, Inc. – one of the state’s regional workforce development boards, covering southwestern Connecticut – to implement two pilot programs; the Military to Machinists Program and the Veterans Platform to Employment Program by next month and report annually to the legislature starting next October. Officials at the Workplace anticipate adding specific program information on their website when the two programs launch, as well as communicating directly with local community organizations to get the word out to veterans.

In testimony earlier this year before the legislature’s Committee on Veterans Affairs supporting the legislative proposal, Steve Kennedy, the Connecticut team leader for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said, “the transition from the military can be exceptionally challenging, as veterans leave jobs where they have strong social support from close peers and clearly-defined roles for civilian roles not necessarily connected to their previous experiences. Veterans have a demonstrated commitment to service and incredible valuable skills and experience.”

The Military to Machinists program will assist veterans in earning a certificate in an advanced manufacturing program as well as in subsequent job placement. The Veterans Platform to Employment Program is designed to assist veterans who have experienced long term unemployment with services such as skills assessment and coaching.

Officials have also highlighted Public Act 19-33 which redefines “service in a time of war” and removes a two-year residency requirement for eligibility of certain benefits, and Public Act 19-171, which increases the base property tax exemption for certain disabled veterans.

“These new laws will expand programs that help our veterans obtain jobs and lead successful careers, provide some tax relief, and broaden eligibility to participate in programs that are provided to veterans by the state. These are thoughtful and needed services for our veterans, and I’m proud to sign them into law,” said Governor Ned Lamont said last month at a bi-partisan signing ceremony at the West Haven Veterans Museum and Learning Center.

This article was written and reported for CT by the Numbers by Julia Penland.