In a letter today to the Governor and Republican (solely) state legislators, WDVA Secretary Ken Black laid out his five concerns regarding Governor Scott Walker’s recommended WDVA budget, leading off with concerns about a lack of GPR funding for the Veterans Trust Fund.
The Governor’s office shot back immediately, noting the Governor’s budget recommendations would provide full restoration for the Wisconsin G.I. Bill -- a DAV-Wis.and broad veterans community priority issue issue left unaddressed by the Board or Secretary Black – and would leave WDVA untouched by the 10% across-the-board cuts made to the rest of state government.
Most importantly, the Governor’s budget recommendations would leave WDVA better off than WDVA’s own budget proposal, approved last September by the Board of Veterans Affairs, weeks after the August statutory deadline.
By contrast in the last biennial budget, the current Board of Veterans Affairs, which still governs WDVA and appoints and supervises Secretary Black, voted down a WDVA budget proposal that would have provided GPR for the Veterans Trust Fund.
The Governor’s office also notes that items classified by Sec. Ken Black as “cuts” to programs are actually reestimated “expenditures from the fund to reflect the actual usage of the programs. If expenditures rise, the Department of Veterans Affairs has the ability to go to the Joint Committee on Finance to ask for more expenditure authority.”
Indeed, the largest of these reestimated expenditures in the Governor’s budget recommendation -- a $3 million “cut” to the veterans personal loan program -- was proposed by Sec. Ken Black, formally approved by the Board of Veterans Affairs last September, and included by the Governor in his recommended budget.
The Governor’s budget proposes full GPR restoration to WDVA, with interest, of “lapses” made by the previous administration from the Veterans Trust Fund to the general fund. Notwithstanding the letter today from Sec. Ken Black, neither the Board nor their Secretary took any action on this action during the last biennium that directly and adversely impacted the Veterans Trust Fund.
The Governor’s recommended budget, however, does subject the Wisconsin Veterans Homes to the so-called “Bed Tax,” a $1.9 million issue that was also proposed by the previous administration but was reversed by the legislature through advocacy by WDVA and the veterans community.
*See the full WDVA budget proposed by the Governor: http://dva.state.wi.us/Docs/DOA-WDVABudgetSummary030111.pdf
*See the letter from the governor's office:
*See Ken Black's letter:
*For information on the current state budget for veterans, see the Government Relations page on the new DAV-Wis. website, at www.davwi.org/government-relations