BSED News: With a remarkably low unemployment rate in Montana of 2.2%, and help wanted signs echoing the shortage in every window, Montana is missing out on the nation’s most well-trained workforce: retired veterans. Montana is one of three states (and the District of Columbia) that provides no special tax consideration for veteran pension and currently taxes veteran pensions fully, as regular income.


Big Sky Economic Development along with the Billings Chamber of Commerce see this as an opportunity of growth and change for Montana in its ability to attract and retain residents. “We want those who are retiring from the military to choose Montana for their home, to start businesses and be part of our workforce. Veterans have significant leadership and technical skills that add immense expertise to our workforce, and they share our Montanan values, we want them here” said Allison Corbyn, Director of Business Recruitment and Economic Policy for Big Sky Economic Development.


In the Montana legislature there are currently two bills seeking to address this issue. One in the Senate (SB104) and one in the House (HB219). “While we would like to see an elimination of the tax on veteran pensions entirely, both bills provide a good start, finally giving Montana a marketing pitch to retiring veterans beyond our scenic beauty” said Dan Brooks, Billings Chamber’s Business Advocacy Director. “Vets are acutely aware of their benefits and want to keep as much as they can, rightly so. And after having lived all over the U.S., part of their relocation decision comes down to which state will let them keep their hard-earned retirement. These bills put Montana on the map for retiring veterans looking for a final relocation after years of redeployment.”


Last session a similar bill made it through the first chamber with strong support but couldn’t quite make it past that next hurdle. Corbyn shared, “We hope this is the year the Montana Legislature will make a change, sending a bill to the Governor’s desk that addresses our tremendous workforce demand by tapping into highly skilled veterans ready to start their second career or a new business.”