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Governor Christie Orders Local Governments To Accept Prepayment Of 2018 Property Taxes

Taxes-1

December 27,2017
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, Governor Chris Christie today signed the following Executive Order:

Executive Order No. 237 – Directs the Director of the Division of Local Government to notify municipalities to accept payments for 2018 property taxes in calendar year 2017 and require them to credit those payments as received in 2017 if the payment is postmarked on or before December 31, 2017.

“The action I took today will ensure that local governments are flexible and accommodating of their local property taxpayers as we transition to the new federal tax code for 2018,” Governor Christie said. “This executive order requires local officials to dedicate the resources and staffing to serve New Jerseyans who are planning in this way for their families and their futures.”

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Governor Says State Employees Impacted By Government Closure Should be Paid

christie at the beach
July 14,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ , Brian Murray, Press Secretary to Governor Chris Christie, issued the following statement on the Governor’s intention to reinstate pay for state workers impacted by last week’s government closure if the legislature will send him a bill:

“As the Governor suggested yesterday in his letter to Speaker Prieto, the issue of pay for involuntarily furloughed workers is first a matter for the legislature to address. There is no lawful way for the Governor to do so on his own. If the legislature were to send him a bill reinstating pay for those workers, he would promptly sign the bill.”

“The Governor believes that the fault for the government shutdown has never been with the rank and file state workers. It is now, and always has been, with Speaker Prieto. His failure to address the issue of pay for state workers in the budget he presented to the Governor and his failure to say anything definitive on this issue until after the Senate had already scheduled a vote to support state workers is just further evidence of that fact.”

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New Jersey Lawmakers Send Bill to Legalize Fireworks Sales to Governor Christie

June 24,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, New Jersey residents could soon be able to legally light fireworks in their backyards.  Currently, only New Jersey, Delaware and Massachusetts have a blanket ban on the sale of fireworks.

In a 35-1 vote, state senators agreed that outlawing fireworks doesn’t mean people don’t buy them. Many just travel across state lines to purchase their products, leaving thousands of dollars of tax revenue behind.

Lawmakers have sent a bill to Gov. Chris Christie’s office to legalize the sale of certain types of fireworks for people 16 and older.The bill would only allow the purchase of fireworks that are “non-exploding”, “non-aerial fireworks”, like sparklers and glow worms.

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Governor Christie Rolls Out His Last Budget

Chris_christie_theridgewoodblog

March 1,2017
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, Governor Christie unviels his final budget as governor ;

“This is the ninth time I’ve come before a joint session to address our state’s budget. Each time I’ve had specific goals in mind; guiding principles to follow. Government should get smaller. Taxes shall not be increased. Our core commitments must be met. Each time, with varying degrees of struggle, harmony and acrimony, we have reached these goals – I have stuck to those principles. Let me assure you that today will be no different.

– Governor Chris Christie, New Jersey State Budget Address, February 28, 2017

The Fiscal Year 2018 budget will be the eighth and final state budget of Governor Chris Christie’s tenure. When Governor Christie entered office in 2010, New Jersey was enduring an unprecedented fiscal crisis, with an immediate $2.2 billion mid-year fiscal deficit, as well as an unthinkably large $10.7 billion projected budget gap for Fiscal Year 2011 — more than a third of the prior year’s budget. At that time, it was uncertain whether the State would be able to meet its payroll within two months.

The staggering $13 billion two-year gap represented the culmination of years of reckless tax-and-spend policies and shortsighted budgeting practices that ignored economic realities. While state and national economies faltered, spending in Trenton under the previous administration continued unabated at unsustainable levels — increasing 58 percent from 2001 to 2008. The previous governor’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget was propped up with temporary income tax hikes, corporate surtaxes, reliance on one-time federal stimulus funds, temporary employee furloughs and other desperate gimmicks.

Today, Governor Christie is presenting his eighth consecutive balanced budget built on a foundation of fiscal restraint and responsibility. The Fiscal Year 2018 budget will fund $2 billion less in discretionary spending than was spent in Fiscal Year 2008.

The Governor’s Proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget:

•       Calls for $35.5 billion in State appropriations, a 2.6 percent increase, largely due to non-discretionary costs.
•       Contains $2 billion less in discretionary spending than the Fiscal Year 2008 budget.
•       Includes the largest pension payment in New Jersey history with a $2.5 billion contribution to the State’s defined benefit funds.
o   This will bring total pension contributions by the Christie Administration to $8.8 billion.
o   That will be more than two and a half times the total contributions made by all governors combined during the 16-year period from Fiscal Year 1995 through Fiscal Year 2010.
•       Renews the Governor’s commitment to higher education in New Jersey. Overall, higher education funding is maintained at a total of $2.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2018.
•       Proposes a seventh-consecutive year of the highest amount of school aid supporting Pre-K through Grade 12 education in New Jersey history. The Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposes more than $13.8 billion for education, an increase of $523.2 million.
•       Provides more than $17 billion in direct and indirect property tax relief, nearly half the total budget, including $13.8 billion in school aid and $1.5 billion in municipal aid.
•       Continues more than $1 billion for direct property taxpayer relief programs:
o   423,300 seniors and citizens with disabilities will receive an average Homestead Benefit of $511, while 169,500 other homeowners earning up to $75,000 will receive an average Homestead Benefit of $397.
o   138,200 seniors and citizens with disabilities will continue receiving Property Tax Freeze benefits averaging $1,401, while 25,100 new beneficiaries will receive their first year of benefits averaging $219.

Investing In New Jersey’s Transportation Infrastructure
Today, Governor Christie proposed a $400 million supplemental appropriation in this Fiscal Year. These funds will be invested and spent quickly over the next 100 days to address bridge deficiencies and road conditions in all of New Jersey’s 21 counties. Further, these funds will be used to expedite technology enhancements and other infrastructure improvements for New Jersey Transit and will allow the New Jersey Department of Transportation to deliver the largest construction program in state history. The results will be smoother roads, safer bridges and a more technologically sound mass transit system.

In October 2016, Governor Christie signed legislation that reauthorized the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund Authority Act. As a result of that legislation, Governor Christie’s fiscal 2018 budget provides a record $2 billion State Transportation Capital Program. The Program includes over $1.3 billion for State and local highway and bridge projects, and another $677 million for mass transportation projects.

Ensuring Access To Care While Keeping Down Costs
The NJ FamilyCare program currently provides comprehensive health care coverage to more than 1.8 million New Jersey residents at a projected $4.2 billion cost to the Fiscal Year 2018 budget. The program serves individuals eligible for both Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and represents a partnership between the State and the federal government. The NJ FamilyCare program, while having some of the highest income limits in the nation, has traditionally provided health coverage exclusively to low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities. On January 1, 2014, Governor Christie expanded the program, using 100 percent federal funding, to provide health coverage to low-income childless adults.

The proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget represents the fourth full fiscal year of the NJ FamilyCare expansion, and while a fraction of the costs associated with this eligibility group have shifted to the State budget, the expansion continues to represent a tremendous value for New Jersey. Since the Governor’s decision to expand NJ FamilyCare in 2014, an additional 487,000 uninsured New Jersey residents have gained coverage under this program. Not only did this expansion provide reliable medical coverage to many formerly uninsured residents, the infusion of federal dollars has generated meaningful savings to the State budget. Through Fiscal Year 2018, the shift of State costs to the federal government combined with the reduction in demand for Charity Care has resulted in a cumulative savings of $2 billion to the State.

Commitment To World-Class Healthcare
With the goal of ensuring a stable and accessible hospital system that provides care of the highest possible quality, the Department of Health’s budget makes significant investments in three hospital subsidy programs: Charity Care, Graduate Medical Education and Delivery System Reform Incentive Payments.

•      Charity Care. Governor Christie’s expansion of NJ FamilyCare has led to a dramatic increase in NJ FamilyCare enrollment, which continues to be funded almost entirely by the federal government. The associated decrease in uninsured residents has reduced by more than half the documented claims for uncompensated care submitted by New Jersey’s hospitals. Since the expansion took effect on January 1, 2014, 487,000 low-income residents have gained health insurance through NJ FamilyCare, a 38-percent increase in program enrollment. This fundamental shift allows for a $25 million reduction in State funding for Charity Care in Fiscal Year 2018.  The Fiscal Year 2018 budget provides $252 million in combined federal and State support to offset the costs hospital facilities incur in treating the uninsured.
•      Graduate Medical Education (GME). The Fiscal Year 2018 budget increases support to New Jersey’s teaching hospitals by $30 million, with the total amount available through the Graduate Medical Education program now totaling $218 million. This marks the third year in a row that funding for this critical program has been increased, with the total amount available now more than triple the funding provided when Governor Christie took office. This enhanced commitment to GME will help to ensure that New Jersey residents have continued access to an adequate number of well-trained doctors.
•      Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP).  Funded at $166.6 million, the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program was launched in Fiscal Year 2014 as a replacement for the Hospital Relief Subsidy Fund. The program continues to reward innovation and quality by distributing funds to hospitals based on measurable improvements in health outcomes.

Continued Emphasis On Community-Based Care And Services
Governor Christie is committed to fundamentally changing the way services and programs support individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, by moving away from a system that has historically focused on institutionalization to one that emphasizes home and community-based services and supports. To this end, resources have been refocused to provide people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with the ability to live as independently as possible with the proper supports.

The five-year Olmstead settlement agreement, signed February 2013, covered fiscal years 2013 to 2017 and required 600 placements over that time period. By the end of Fiscal Year 2018, the Department expects to have placed a total of 737 individuals, well exceeding the requirements of the Olmstead agreement due in large part to the acceleration of placements from the closure of North Jersey Developmental Center and Woodbridge Developmental Center in Fiscal Year 2015.

In addition to the Olmstead commitment to move individuals with developmental disabilities out of developmental centers, Governor Christie’s determination to provide services in the community includes funds to develop additional community placements and services that divert admissions to developmental centers. The Fiscal Year 2018 budget provides $89.7 million of new State and federal funding to create community placements and services, including Olmstead placements.

As a result of reforms initiated under the Medicaid Comprehensive Waiver, adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities that are living independently or with family are becoming eligible for substantially increased in-home support services for which the State will receive a federal match. When the Supports Program is fully implemented, it is expected to generate approximately $100 million in matching funding on previously State-only costs to create an estimated $200 million program, which will allow for the further expansion of services.

Family Services
The Fiscal Year 2018 budget continues and enhances the Christie Administration’s commitment to providing a wide array of services to children and families throughout New Jersey through Department of Children and Families (DCF) programs.

•       Child Protection and Permanency (CP&P). The Fiscal Year 2018 budget includes a total of $986.6 million in State and federal funds for the operations and services provided by this DCF Division that is responsible for investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect
•      Children’s System of Care (CSOC). This program helps more youth remain at home, in school and in their own communities, while still receiving the full scope of services they require, and provides coordinated care for more than 61,000 children and adolescents. The Fiscal Year 2018 budget includes a total of $592.5 million in State and federal funds for the operations and services provided by this Division, an increase of $24.3 million over the fiscal 2017 Appropriations Act.
•      Family Success Centers.  The Governor’s proposed budget protects funding for these centers which are community-based organizations that provide a wide array of services ranging from day care, resume writing and parenting classes to domestic violence prevention and substance use disorder services. The number of Family Success Centers in New Jersey will increase to a total of 58 in Fiscal Year 2018.

Lead Safety
Through continuing and increased appropriations, Governor Christie’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget continues to address lead concerns in New Jersey, ensuring the State remains a national leader on this issue. Governor Christie has added $10 million in additional State funding to effectuate the update in lead regulations to make New Jersey’s standards for identifying elevated blood-lead levels in children consistent with those of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Department of Community Affairs will continue working through nonprofit organizations to remediate lead-based paint hazards affecting low- and moderate-income households in New Jersey.

The Fiscal Year 2017 budget provided $10 million to reimburse school districts for costs related to lead testing between July 13, 2016, and July 13, 2017. School districts that tested their water during that time period can continue to seek reimbursement in Fiscal Year 2018 from unexpended Fiscal Year 2017 balances.

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Governor Christie: NJ Newspapers’ Hidden Revenue is Obstructing Direct Property Tax Relief

Bergen record Newspaper-vending-machine2

file photo by Boyd Loving

February 24, 2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton, NJ – A month since the New Jersey Press Association promised, but failed, to provide the public and the Legislature with the revenue totals their members receive from the publication of legal notices, the Governor’s Office today released additional revenue information from its own review that further debunks the multibillion-dollar print newspaper industry’s grossly false and misleading claims.

In an effort to lobby for media titans against overdue property tax-cutting reform bill S-2855/A-4429, which permits legal notices to be published online and has been supported by bipartisan legislators for 16 years, NJPA has claimed their member newspapers take $20 million per year from taxpayers. NJPA continues to provide no evidence to support this claim.  Meanwhile, the Governor’s Office has released ample data, such as the attached, publicizing the newspapers’ real taxpayer rake, which is well over $20 million and pushing upwards of $80 million per year.

“The billionaires and millionaires running print newspapers in New Jersey continue to provide false rhetoric that they collect only $20 million in annual tax dollars to publish legal notices that should instead be freely posted online, and have yet to fulfill their promise to release real financial information, conceding that their $20 million claims were a lie to their employees, legislators, readers and taxpayers,” Governor Christie said. “These newspaper operators are so conflicted on this issue that despite my office providing sets of data proving their claims are false, there have been no articles or editorials reflecting that reality.”

Data backing the $80 million and the Star Ledger’s $16.6 million in 2016 legal notices revenue has been public since January 24. It has been provided to and remains unpublished by the following newspapers:

The Record
Gannett
NJ Advance Media
The Associated Press
NJ Spotlight
New Jersey Herald

In the face of this silence, the Governor’s Office has continued its painstaking review with the Gannett newspapers.  To date, the Office has reviewed the published 2016 legal notices for three daily newspapers and the revenue generated from just these three newspapers exceeds $20 million:

2016 Revenue Totals

•    Star-Ledger – $16,614,923.68
•    Courier Post – $2,096,997.42
•    Asbury Park Press – $1,989,089.53

Total for 3 Daily Newspapers – $20,701,010.63

With 13 daily papers and dozens of weekly papers left to tabulate, the 2016 legal notices in these three papers alone prove the NJPA’s $20 million per year claim is an outright falsehood.

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Governor Christie Signs Executive Order Declaring Opioid Drug Abuse a Public Health Crisis

heroin

January 17, 2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ,  Intensifying his Administration’s commitment in the fight against substance abuse, Governor Chris Christie today signed Executive Order 219 declaring the opioid epidemic a public health crisis in New Jersey. The action requires the marshalling of all appropriate resources to combat its harmful effects on state citizens.

“We must take aggressive action to get this insidious crisis under control so I am calling together all resources of state government in order to save lives,” said Governor Christie. “The human cost of this epidemic is incalculable, impacting every part of life in New Jersey, affecting our education system, our health care system, public safety and the financial security of every person it touches.”

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, an American dies every 19 minutes from an opioid or heroin overdose. New Jersey’s drug overdose death rate increased by almost 22 percent between 2014 and 2015. There was a 30 percent increase in heroin deaths over the previous year and triple the number of deaths caused by the synthetic opioid fentanyl. Additionally, the CDC reports that in 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication, enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of pills.

The new Executive Order creates the Governor’s Task Force on Drug Abuse Control, to be headed by Charlie McKenna, Executive Director of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority, which will be charged with developing and executing a comprehensive, coordinated strategy to combat the drug-abuse epidemic by working with all areas of state government, in addition to local, federal, and private entities, as well as the Facing Addiction Task Force.

The Drug Abuse Task Force will consist of eight members, including the Attorney General and the Commissioners of Health, Human Services, Corrections, Education, Children and Families, and Banking and Insurance.

The Task Force will review current statutes and regulations that present barriers to individuals suffering from addiction to receiving treatment and make recommendations to rescind or amend any such statutes or regulations to remove those barriers.  The panel is authorized to call upon any department, office, division, or agency of this state to supply it with information, personnel, or other assistance available as the Task Force deems necessary to discharge its duties. The Task Force may consult with experts or other knowledgeable individuals in the public or private sector on any aspect of its mission.

The Executive Order also directs Attorney General Chris Porrino to take all necessary steps to limit the initial prescription of opioids for acute pain and establish standards such that additional quantities may only be prescribed after further consultation with the patient.

The Order further directs Department of Children and Families Commissioner Allison Blake to ensure residential substance abuse disease treatment facilities and similar facilities utilize their existing spaces effectively, including ensuring that 18 and 19-year-olds with substance abuse problems are able to take advantage of any vacancies in existing facilities wherever appropriate.

In addition, the Governor is directing Acting Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington to develop a new, comprehensive grade-specific curriculum to educate children about the dangers of substance abuse.

“Opioid drug abuse is one of the most challenging issues facing us not only as Americans but as New Jerseyans,” said Governor Christie.  “The crisis is pervasive – impacting our families, friends, neighbors and coworkers.  The steps I am taking today through this Executive Order recognize the severity of the crisis and pull together the efforts of all state government agencies.”

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Four Years after Super Storm Sandy Governor Christie Reviews Progress

October 30,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, On Friday, Governor Christie discussed the progress our state has made four years after Sandy as his administration continues to work with homeowners, business owners, and communities to rebuild and safeguard against future storms. He also conducted a small business tour in Seaside Heights, a community heavily impacted by Sandy.It is no doubt that so much more needs to be done and some homeowners are still struggling four years later trying to cut through the
the red tape .
The Governor outlined investments in rebuilding our infrastructure, getting families back in their homes and protecting our shores after Sandy including:
  • Nearly $2.5 billion in utility infrastructure hardening & resilience investments
  • More than $2 billion in FEMA public assistance directed towards recovery projects
  • Five large-scale NJ Transit projects designed to better safeguard critical components of our transportation grid
  • $7 million to fund Retail Fuel Station program to allow gas stations expedited access to back-up power during an energy emergency
  • Coordinated effort with Army Corps of Engineers to build 11 new coastal and flood protection projects statewide
  • More than $1.6 billion in federal housing assistance to help Sandy-impacted families
  • Majority of 7,600 homeowners participating in Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation program are back in their homes
  • Expanded Blue Aces program, allowing residents in flood-prone areas to sell homes damaged by Superstorm Sandy
  • $207 million dedicated to support economic revitalization in Sandy-affected communities through the Stronger NJ business programs.

The Christie administration is committed to finishing the job on Sandy recovery, revitalization and resilience efforts.

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Governor Christie held his latest Fairness Town Hall in New Providence and Hammered the Tax Fairness Message

Chris_christie_theridgewoodblog
October 23,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood Nj, On Tuesday, despite the Governor’s legal trouble, Governor Christie held his latest Fairness Funding Town Hall in New Providence, continuing to make the case for massive property tax relief and equal funding for every student in our state.
The Governor made it clear that its unacceptable to allow the failed, court-ordered school funding format to continue to fail inner-city students and short-change our surburban schools and taxpayers. The largest force opposed the Governor’s Fairness Funding Formula is the NJEA. They have spent millions to buy the support of Trenton Democrats to block any effort to reform school funding, making property taxpayers foot the bill for a failed formula.
The Governor’s plan to provide equal funding to every student across our state would translate into more money and property tax relief for 75% of school districts in the state. In New Providence, the Governor’s plan could translate into a $3,232 reduction in the average homeowner’s yearly property tax bill.
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Community Activist Bill Brennan has filed a lawsuit in Bergen County court against Governor Christie based upon Wildstein’s “Bridgegate ” testimony

Bill Brennan Bridgewgate

October 12,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, the staff of the Ridgewood blog is made up of many long-time commuters , so we have been ,to say the least,  a bit skeptical this entire “Bridgegate ” or “Bridgeapolooza” episode. The reality is that the GWB has huge traffic jams averaging over 1-hour delays during rush hour every day.

The Port Authority is hardly and paragon of virtue it’s often been the dumping ground for on the lamb public employees from New York and New Jersey and New York and New Jersey can hardly claim the mantle of puritanicalism  both states seem more often than not to be mired in corruption.

In recent “Bridgegate” not only did former Port Authority Official, David Wildstein, told Bill Baroni’s attorney, Michael Baldassare, that Governor Christie’s staff asked him to produce a list of Port Authority employees so that Democrats could be purged, just weeks after starting his $150,000-a-year job at the Port Authority in 2010.

Wildstien also claimed under oath he told Governor Christie about the lane closing. The prosecution’s star witness claimed Gov. Chris Christie was told of the traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge in the midst of the gridlock in Fort Lee in September 2013, and that Christie laughed when he heard about it.

Community Activist Bill Brennan found a way to file a lawsuit in Bergen County court against Governor Christie based upon Wildstein’s testimony.

Brennan says ,”There’s a statute in New Jersey, the Official Misconduct statute, which says that a public servant is guilty of official misconduct for the purpose to deprive another of a benefit or obtain a benefit for himself. If he refrains from taking an action that’s clearly inherent in the nature of his office. Clearly inherent in the nature in the office of the Governor is opening those lanes when you’ve been told they’re closed.

Tomorrow morning the Governor of NJ faces charges for something we all know he did. I fear life in a country where the government harms law-abiding citizens in fits of pettiness and revenge. It scares me to know that people are being coerced by officials who brag that they can destroy the lives of anyone who refuses their demands. It terrifies me that this is all out in the open and I might be alone in an open court room standing up against tyranny. “

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Governor Christie, Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Prieto reached a tentative agreement to finance the Transportation Trust Fund

Gas_prices_theridgewoodblog

September 30,2016

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, late Friday while all eyes were on the Hoboken Train tragedy and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Governor Christie, Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Prieto reached a tentative agreement to finance the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF).A special legislative session will be called next week to ratify this agreement so it is subject to change.

The following are some of the details that have emerged :

0.23-cent gasoline tax increase…bringing total to 37.5 cent/gallon tax on gasoline

Sales tax cut: On 1/1/17, the sales tax will go from 7% to 6.875% and in 2018 to 6.625%.

Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor to 35 percent of the federal benefit amount beginning in tax year 2016

Tax Savings for Retirees: Increase the New Jersey gross income tax exclusion on pension and retirement income over four years to $100,000 for joint filers, $75,000 for individuals and $50,000 for married/filing separately

Eliminate the Estate Tax: Phase out the estate tax over the next 15 months, replacing the current $675,000 threshold with a $2 million exclusion after January 1, 2017 and eliminating the estate tax altogether as of January 1, 2018

Tax Savings for Veterans: Provide a personal exemption on state income taxes for all New Jersey veterans honorably discharged from active service in the military or the National Guard.