One of the best definitions of bravery we’ve found is this: The people who run toward what everyone else is running away from.
In some Wisconsin communities, the people running toward the danger are volunteers, volunteer firefighters specifically. There is bipartisan support in Madison for a bill that aims to recruit and retain more volunteer emergency responders by giving them tax credits, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported July 1.
Assembly Bill 302 would create up to $1,500 in refundable tax credits for volunteer medical responders, firefighters and ambulance drivers.
Republican Rep. Treig Pronschinske of Mondovi, a sponsor of the bill, has been a volunteer firefighter for the Mondovi Fire Department for 11 years. He said it has become hard to attract and retain volunteers, adding that those who do volunteer deserve to be rewarded.
“I see firsthand what these folks go through on a daily basis,” Pronschinske said. “This is not a fix-all, but it’s a good start to reward people who are there (for their community) at any given time.” (A spokeswoman for Pronschinske said he does not meet the minimum work requirements to qualify for the credits.)
Under the bill, responders who have served for more than one year would receive a $300 credit; those who have served for more than five years would get a $600 credit. A second tax credit would reimburse volunteers for time spent engaged in education or training for their position; responders would also be able to claim up to $400 for personal vehicle mileage and equipment-related expenses. All the tax credits would be refundable, which means the responders would get cash from the state if they didn’t have any tax liability.
It might not make the difference in determining whether someone signs up to be a volunteer firefighter. But it would be a way to honor the service of those who do.
We hope the bill will bipartisan support. It’s a tangible way to thank first responders for their service.