Making California More Affordable for Disabled Veterans

Property tax exemption bill by Sen. Morrell clears first committee
Wednesday, April 3, 2019

While higher costs of living and an increasingly competitive job market are realities faced by many Californians up and down the state, these challenges often hit California’s disabled veterans hardest.

With these realities in mind, Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) is authoring a pair of bills to ease the burdens facing California’s disabled veterans. SB 500 and SB 562 will increase job opportunities while working to keep the cost of housing more maintainable.

In that effort, the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance has unanimously approved SB 562.

“California sends more men and women into military service than almost any other state,” said Morrell. “Unfortunately, many return home unable to perform the jobs they did in the Armed Forces. We need to ensure these service members have every opportunity to achieve the American Dream that they fought for.”

SB 562 will increase the current Basic Property Tax Exemption for disabled veterans to keep up with the rise in California home prices and cost of living. The median home price in California is approximately $540,000. Property taxes for a home this value exceed more than $5,000 per year.

The measure is sponsored by Homes For Our Troops, a non-profit that builds new homes to meet the needs of disabled veterans. It is also supported by Disabled American Veterans Department of California.

SB 500 is a first-of-its-kind veterans’ education bill for disabled veterans to attain graduate-level degrees. The bill will create an education program through California’s Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) that extends housing and tuition assistance to veterans with a disability rating above 50 percent while they are enrolled in any program, internship, or fellowship that earn credits towards a master’s degree.

Along with a rise in housing costs, veterans are also returning home to a job market demanding different skillsets. According to a recent survey from CareerBuilder, nearly a third of employers are bumping up education requirements for new hires, while 27 percent are recruiting those who hold master’s degrees for positions that used to only require four-year degrees.

Morrell is also a co-author of SB 663, which would expand property tax exemptions for Veterans Service Organizations (VSO). Although VSOs already receive property tax exemptions for some properties, this bill would expand the exemption to cover lodges and other multi-purpose facilities where organizations often find the best uses for treatments, recovery, and fundraising. The bill passed the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance on March 27, 2019.

All three bills are supported by numerous veterans organizations and will be considered by the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs later in April.