Gov. Wes Moore announced proposals to further cut taxes for military retirees and to refund health insurance costs for members of the Maryland National Guard during an event with veterans at the State House on Thursday.
Moore, a Democrat, has yet to unveil his full suite of proposals for the General Assembly, which is in the midst of its annual 90-day session. These two military proposals represent the first public discussion of any of his legislative priorities.
Moore and his nominee for secretary of veterans affairs, Anthony Woods, gathered dozens of military retirees for a meeting and question-and-answer session. Moore told the assembled group that his proposals are a signal of how important members of the military are to the state.
The two proposals are:
- The “Keep Our Heroes Home Act” would give a more generous tax break on military retirement income, including the first $25,000 of income in 2023 and the first $40,000 in 2024. It also would remove age restrictions for such tax cuts. The current tax exemption is on the first $5,000 of income for those younger than 55 and the first $15,000 of income for those 55 or older.
- The “Health Care for Heroes Act” would allow members of the Maryland National Guard in a certain health insurance program to be reimbursed for the premiums they pay, essentially giving them no-cost healthcare.
Moore’s budget proposal estimates the military retirement income tax credit will cost about $30 million, while the health care bill would cost about $5 million.
Both bills have been drafted but have not yet been introduced in the General Assembly. Moore expressed confidence in his chances of getting them passed, noting that veteran-friendly bills, such as tax cuts, have been proposed by lawmakers from both parties for years.
“We feel very good about our ability to work with the legislature,” Moore said.
The General Assembly is dominated by Democrats, who in past years have been cautious about enacting tax cuts, though they supported some of former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposals for tax breaks for retirees.
Moore’s pick for veterans affairs secretary, Anthony Woods, said the administration will embody Moore’s military-inspired campaign motto.
“Leave No One Behind is not a slogan,” he said. “It’s a promise that he’s going to hold us to.”
Moore is a military veteran himself. He joined the U.S. Army Reserves while still in military boarding school as a 17-year-old in 1996 and served until his retirement in 2014. One of Moore’s frequent stories on the campaign trail was about how his mother had to sign off on the enlistment papers because he was so young, but she gladly did so.
Moore reached the rank of captain and was deployed to Afghanistan from August 2005 through March 2006, according to Department of Defense records.