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Proposed legislation to reduce costs for volunteer firefighters and EMT’s

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firefighter tax credit

Republican State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington along with Democrat Ram Villivalam from Chicago are sponsoring legislation to help volunteer firefighters and EMT's with a $500 tax credit.

Metamora Fire Chief Mike Sluga said he hopes this new tax credit could help boost recruitment.

Metamora's Chief Sluga has been on the job for almost 40 years.

"It's a calling really, you love what you do, that's why we do it. You don't do it to make money, you're not going to get rich doing this job I guarantee it. You go to help the community." said Chief Sluga

The firefighters have other jobs, but they are prepared to report for duty at any time.

"We're all married to this pager and when it goes off we all come." said Sluga

Senate Bill 3224 would create a $500 dollar tax credit that qualifying volunteer firefighters and EMT's can claim when they file their Illinois income taxes.

"They put their lives on the line for the public. And so this to me is just a small step in the right direction to recognize that with all of those burdens that have been placed on them, being forced to contribute out of their own pocket to be able to do this work in our communities." said State Sen. Barickman

Because it is a credit and not a deduction, it would provide a direct reduction in the amount of taxes owed, or potentially even increase their tax refund.

"The hope here is that we can off set some of their costs, make it a little bit easier for them to do their job and make it easier for our communities to recruit people like this who want to serve." said Barickman

"Most people only think of the firemen when they have something happen. We see people at their worst and to have somebody like Senator Barickman think of us and any little bit that can defray some of the cost for these guys that's a great thing." said Sluga

The lawmakers filed their bill to help volunteer firefighters and EMT’s pay for expenses that often includes things such as medical and fire equipment, training, licensure, and even insurance. They also hope that by reducing the financial burden of volunteering, the legislation can help local fire departments to recruit new volunteers to bolster their efforts at protecting the public.

With bi-partisan support Barickman said he is hopeful that it will do well in committee, but there is no set timeline on when that will be.

Kaitlin Pearson

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