TRENTON — Many veterans organizations in New Jersey, like local American Legion posts, are living from fundraiser to fundraiser, with little extra cash put away for a rainy day, so if a fire or hurricane destroys a local post’s building, reconstructing can be insurmountable. With many of these structures 50 to 60 years old, even paying for upkeep can be a challenge, as simply replacing an air conditioning unit can cost $10,000. The challenges of insufficient funds could cause some of these organizations to fold, taking away from the community a vital partner, supporter and community center.
To aid these organizations, voters will be asked to approve a Constitutional Amendment on November 5 which will allow veterans organizations to use the net proceeds from games of chance to give them greater financial flexibility to pay their bills. The legislation enabling the change, S-87, requires the approval of a constitutional amendment, proposed in SCR-11, to become effective. Approval of the Constitutional Amendment will not cause any increase in taxes or liability to taxpayers.
“If a veterans association has to shut its doors because they can no longer pay their electric bill or afford the basic costs of their facilities, they won’t be able to continue to provide the invaluable services that their community has come to depend upon,” said Dawn Marie Addiego, 8th District State Senator, who sponsored the legislation with Kip Bateman (16th District).
Some of those services include sponsoring Boy and Girl Scout troops; sending local students to Boys & Girls State; enhancing education in the schools with a patriotic coloring contest, safety essay contest and an oratorical contest on the Constitution; supporting Hiring Our Heroes job fairs, events at veterans homes and aiding local veterans or our troops.
“This is a vital piece of legislation for the viability of many of our veterans posts,” said Jim Amos, state commander of the American Legion, Dept. of New Jersey. “The closure of a post would have a rippling negative effect throughout the community with the loss of programs, services and events provided by the American Legion that residents have come to expect. We ask the citizens of New Jersey to support us by voting yes on Public Question number 1.”
Under current law, veterans organizations are required to dedicate the proceeds they raise from games of chance to educational, charitable, patriotic, religious or public-spirited uses. This legislation expands the permitted use of those proceeds collected from games of chance to include directly supporting the costs of the organization, including increased costs for maintenance, electric, gas, oil and other utilities. Senior citizens groups currently have that permission.
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