Bill to help military important now

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Mississippi, along with states like North Dakota, Nevada and Alabama, has among the highest concentration of National Guard and reserve troops who have been called up in the buildup for war with Iraq.

In fact, Alabama has nearly 30 percent of its eligible forces on active duty. Nevada and North Dakota have the highest concentration.

Pentagon officials attribute the seemingly disproportionate numbers on the level of training and the specialties needed overseas.

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Regardless of the reason, the numbers make it even more important that Mississippi lawmakers pass a just-introduced bill to give tax breaks to active duty military.

The bill &045; because it was introduced after the deadline for new legislation &045; needs a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate for consideration.

Sen. Barbara Blackmon, D-Canton, introduced the bill. Her version would erase capital gains taxes for active duty military personnel who have to sell their homes, allow tax breaks to help military families pay for college, give military families the kind of child care and transportation assistance that’s already available to people on welfare.

Military families are left with a financial burden when one spouse must leave a job to go overseas or to defend the homeland.

Understandably, lawmakers &045; who are already facing a budget crunch &045; need to consider how tax breaks would affect the state’s finances.

But if it’s possible &045; or even if non-vital items could be shifted to create new funding &045; this is an important, tangible way that Mississippi can support its troops who are headed toward harm’s way.