March 5, 2014 —
ALBANY, NY — At the State of the State Address this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggested that 5% of state contracts be awarded to veterans. In his budget address a bit later, however, Cuomo said the state should study the proposition.
Sen. John Bonacic said, “We don’t need to study it, we need action now. Forty-four other states have embraced this idea of jobs for heroes.” Bonacic made the statement in a video sent to media outlets on February 27.
After the budget presentation, Cuomo announced he would introduce legislation that would implement the program.
A separate Jobs for Heroes bill has been introduced in the House and the Senate. Sen. Gregg Ball has said the bill is expected to pass as part of the budget process.
Ball’s legislation would create a state contract preference for service-connected, disabled veteran-owned small businesses in the state. The legislation is modeled on a federal program that targets veterans for 3% of federal contracts.
At a veterans’ forum on March 1, Ball said, “Providing this earned opportunity to our heroes is common sense. New York State is behind the over 40 other states that have already enacted this set-aside. One in seven veterans is self-employed or a small business owner. The same attributes that make these people so vital to defending our freedom are the same hard-earned intangibles that make them exceptional at running their businesses and creating jobs.” Ball has a petition supporting legislation on his website.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney joined Ball and said, “After our brave men and women have dedicated their lives in service to our country, more than three million veterans have come home to start small businesses. We must do all that we can to support our heroes.”
According to Ball, similar legislation has repeatedly passed in the Senate since 2007, but has never made it out of the New York State Assembly Committee on Governmental Operations.
Bonacic said the unemployment rate among veterans is two to three times as high as the national unemployment rate. He said “Those that were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, we have to show them that we want them to succeed. We must get this done for our heroes this year; that’s the number one priority.”
Bonacic is a co-sponsor of the bill in the Senate. Assemblyman Felix Ortiz is the sponsor of the bill in that Assembly, with 60 cosponsors.