E-News from the Office of Senator Van de Putte
I hope this e-news finds you doing well. The following is a 4th of July edition, with a special focus on our military personnel. As Independence Day draws near, there is no better time to demonstrate our gratitude to those who fight to preserve our freedoms.
Celebrating Our Independence
I don't know anyone who doesn't like the 4th of July! Independence Day is the most important civic holiday of the year; and for many Americans it means family, friends and fireworks. But of course, Independence Day means much more.
It is my sincere hope that this year we will all take time to consider the true meaning of Independence Day, which honors the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. On July 4, 1776, democracy was born, as we declared our independence from Great Britain. But, the Declaration of Independence is more than just a piece of paper. It is a symbol of our independence and a commitment to our goals, as a nation. It serves as a reminder of our forefathers who fought to make these ideals possible and stood up for our independence.
The 4th of July is a day to celebrate our hard-fought freedoms and to recognize our precious American rights. Thomas Jefferson said, "Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government..." This quote, taken from the Declaration of Independence, describes that America truly is a land ruled by the people for the people. As we know, many are not as fortunate to live with the same ideals and freedoms, with which Americans are blessed. For this reason, many seek out life in America to realize the daily opportunities you and I may take for granted.
As our nation is fighting a war on terrorism, the 4th of July takes on a more significant meaning. While our military men and women fight to preserve our freedoms, we must come together to stress the importance, and the immediate relevance of paying tribute to our nation. Let us each celebrate our independence in our own special way this 4th of July, but I urge you to please take a moment of silence and reflection to appreciate our country, our military service members and their families.
Retirees, Disabled Vets Still Can File for 2008 Stimulus Payments
Although April 15 has passed, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is reminding retirees, disabled veterans and others who normally do not file a tax return that there is still time to submit a 2007 form to receive an economic stimulus payment.
Those who have no tax filing requirement, but have at least $3,000 in qualifying income should file a simple Form 1040A. Qualifying income includes any combination of earned income, nontaxable combat pay, as well as certain payments from Social Security, Veterans Affairs and Railroad Retirement. But, you must file a return by October 15 to receive an economic stimulus payment this year.
To file electronically, you can still use Free File - Economic Stimulus Payment, available at www.irs.gov. This program provides free software and free electronic filing of Form 1040A, and it remains open after April 15. You may also call 1-800-906-9887 for more information.
Improving Education for Our Veterans
I am pleased to announce that last week, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Raymond Simon and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England signed a formal agreement linking their two department's efforts to improve the quality of education, and address unique challenges faced by children of military families.
As Chair of the Texas Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs and Military Installations, I applaud the efforts of our federal government to improve the educational system for our military families. However, much of our military children's educational needs are the responsibility of the state, and therefore must be addressed at this level.
Our military families face many unique challenges through frequent moves and deployments; and we must strive to minimize the difficulties they experience. The average military child will attend a range of six to nine different school systems between kindergarten and 12th grade. Although the armed services have made progress in the transition of personnel, the state must ease the transition process for our military children, by ensuring these children are not penalized by rigid and impractical administrative practices.
In the upcoming legislative session, I will sponsor legislation to work with the Department of Defense, the National Center for Interstate Compacts and the Council of State Governments, in order to develop an Interstate Compact that addresses common educational transition issues of our military families.
The Interstate Compact program is intended to create a uniform policy in every school district, in the states which choose to participate in the Compact. Therefore, if Texas chooses to adopt the Interstate Compact program, it will allow uniform treatment of military children transferring between school districts, including between different states.
Military service can create a myriad of challenges for families; and it is our duty to reduce the stresses endured. Our military service members are going to great extents to support our country, and in doing so are making sacrifices at home. Therefore, our military children deserve every opportunity we can give them in return.
Please feel free to contact my office regarding any of the above information; and please have a safe and happy 4th of July!
HOW TO CONTACT SENATOR VAN DE PUTTE
700 N. St. Mary's St. #1725
San Antonio, Texas 78205
(210) 733-6605 - fax