Legislation from Sen. Bob Casey would help veterans own small businesses

By:  Ivey DeJesus

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) on Wednesday unveiled bipartisan legislation that would help veterans own their own small businesses.

Casey is cosponsoring the bill, the Help Veterans Own Franchises Act, with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). The bill would create a tax credit for veterans or their spouses who purchase a franchise. The tax credit would amount to 25 percent of the total franchise fee and is capped at $100,000.

Casey said that while no single bill or action would provide a complete solution to the inordinately high unemployment among veterans, the franchise tax credit bill would serve as a step in that direction.

“Franchises as we know offer great opportunities to veterans,” Casey said, citing research by the American Association of Franchises and Dealers that found one out of every seven franchise businesses in the country is owned by veterans.

“That’s a pretty good number but we can do better,” Casey said.

That statistic translates, he said, into 66,000 veteran-owned businesses, 815,000 jobs and $41 billion generated into the gross domestic product index.

“We have a strong foundation upon which to build when it comes to providing veterans with an opportunity to own a franchise,” Casey said.

Casey said he introduced similar legislation in the last Congress. Of working with Rubio, Casey said: “I’m grateful to work with him on a bipartisan basis ... whenever you can get bipartisan support it’s important but to have it at the onset is especially meaningful.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 205,000 veterans who served since 9/11 are unemployed. While the overall unemployment rate has fallen nationally to 7.5, the veteran sector continues to show an unemployment rate of 9.5.

Casey said the timing of the legislation - just days away from Memorial Day - underscored the debt owed to veterans.

“If we are going to be worthy of their valor and sacrifice, we have to enact policies that will help them when they are making the transition from soldiers to veterans,” Casey said.