A local assemblyman has scored a legislative victory with a new law designed to help veterans find jobs.
Governor Cuomo signed a bill championed by East Bronx Assemblyman Michael Benedetto that will create a database of unemployed veterans to fill part-time positions in various state agencies within six months. The state spends about $80 million a year to hire part-time people, said the assemblyman, chair of the assembly veterans affairs committee.
The bill, called the Veterans Unemployment Act, was passed by the Assembly and Senate about six months ago, and was signed into law by Cuomo on Friday, Jan. 10.
Benedetto said he was “ecstatic” when he heard the news.
“I want to thank Gov. Cuomo for signing my bill and for helping all of the unemployed veterans in the state of New York,” said Benedetto. “The governor has seen the wisdom of my legislation and the benefits that it will provide for the many veterans who have been looking for too long a time for meaningful employment.”
The temp jobs could be anything from accountanting work, janitorial services, and secretarial work.
The Cuomo administration initially took issue with the hiring program going into effect immediately, with the six-month compromise finally worked out, said Benedetto.
Details on the specific workings of the program still need to be worked out, he added.
Local veterans advocate Patrick Devine said the new law will help with a critical need of jobs for a deserving population.
“I think it is a great first step,” said Devine. “I know Michael championed this legislation in the Assembly…it is quite an exciting time for the unemployed veteran.”
Devine said that based on his understanding, many of the positions are those where a state employee has left or retired, with budgetary constraints barring a new full-time replacement.
Devine recalled how he had a difficult time finding a job when he got back from Vietnam.
Benedetto said he hopes at least some of those temporary jobs would eventually lead to full-time positions.
“I thought it was a common-sense approach to solve a problem that we have with our veterans, that’s why the bill was crafted, and I believe the governor saw the logic in that approach,” he said. “I hope the [legislation] is fully executed as soon as possible so that our deserving vets can reap the benefits.”
A memorandum filed by Cuomo upon signing the bill stated that New York State is home to more than 900,000 veterans, including almost 90,000 veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Nationwide, post-9/11 veterans have an unemployment rate of 10 percent,” Cuomo stated. “This bill advances the important goal of creating new employment opportunities for veterans in New York State, and joins existing programs making New York a welcoming home for veterans.”