Victory for Veterans: Governor Walker’s Budget Restores Wisconsin G.I. Bill, Protects Our Veterans
New Berlin – Governor Scott Walker met with veteran service organizations today to proudly announce that the proposed 2011 – 2013 Biennial Budget restores the Wisconsin G.I. Bill, ensures the solvency of the Veterans Trust Fund, and fully funds veteran assistance programs.
“Protecting Wisconsin’s most courageous citizens is of the highest priority, and restoring the Wisconsin G.I. Bill is a promise that I am proud to keep,” Governor Walker said. “In addition to restoring the G.I. Bill, our budget will ensure that the Veterans Trust Fund is solvent so that future generations can keep their promise to our heroes. Our honored veterans fought so that we can be free. It is our duty to provide them with the opportunities and care that they rightfully deserve when they return home.”
Disabled America Veterans State Commander John Hoeft: “Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget would restore a promise to Wisconsin’s veterans by fully reversing enacted cuts to the Wisconsin G.I. Bill, provide for a new veterans nursing home in Chippewa Falls, and maintain funding for key state veterans programs and services. This budget proposal is good for veterans.”
WI MOPH Department Commander William F.Hustad: “The Military Order of the Purple Heart- Department of Wisconsin is pleased to announce its support of Governor Walker's 2011-13 proposed budget that restores full funding for the Wisconsin G.I. Bill tuition remission program.Specifically, the Survivor and Dependent program which provides full tuition remission for the dependents of veterans who are federally rated with a 30% or greater service connected disability and also to the dependent survivors of our brave men and women who are killed in action.
Restoring the Wisconsin G.I. Bill
In the recent economic downturn, many veterans were left unemployed without the tools to successfully reenter the workforce. Restoring this promise and benefit to our veterans will provide them with the opportunity of pursuing advanced degrees or retraining in new fields that assist in their transition from active duty to civilian employment. It will also allow for remission of academic credits and tuition.
Ensuring the Solvency of the Veterans Trust Fund
The Veterans Trust Fund has experienced cash flow shortfalls since 2003 and a structural deficit since fiscal year 2006. Without action, the fund was on the road to bankruptcy by 2013.
The Governor’s 2011-2013 budget ensures solvency by providing sufficient funds to support vital programs that veterans rely on, and gives the Department of Veterans Affairs the flexibility to reallocate revenues within the agency to best meet the needs of Wisconsin’s veterans. The Governor’s budget also allocates $416,800 in new General Purpose Revenue(GPR) to repay past raids on the fund.
Increased Funding for Veteran Outreach
Many veterans return home without knowing the benefits that they are eligible to receive, and many are reluctant to ask for assistance. By increasing funding for outreach, we will be able to help them transition to civilian life.
Creation of a Veterans Home in Chippewa Falls
A new veterans home will be created in Chippewa Falls. Funding for its creation will be provided by the federal government (65%) and program revenue-supported state general obligation bonds (35%). Ongoing operations will be funded by the home’s revenue.
Increased Funding for Cemetery Maintenance and Staff
Due to increased demand for services, the Governor’s budget provides for additional funding to meet the needs of veterans and their families.
In addition to the reforms above, Governor Walker’s budget calls for a reorganization and consolidation of the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide greater administrative efficiency and improved oversight.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Military Order of the Purple Heart, and AMVETS endorse these measures and were included in today’s meeting with Governor Walker.