In a bipartisan move led by Sen. Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac) and Representative Dan Lemahieu (R-Osstburg), the state legislature’s Joint Finance Committee voted to provide new support for the state’s Veterans Trust Fund and several veterans programs.
In one of the votes led by Hopper, the committee voted 16-0 to provide $5 million in new GPR funding for the ailing Veterans Trust Fund, which is projected to have a negative cash flow in just two years.
The $5 million is the first GPR influx since 1988, and the largest since 1972 according to several press releases issued today.
“When creating a budget, we always talk about priorities. I am proud of all members of the Joint Finance Committee for unanimously prioritizing those who have risked their lives for freedom,” said Hopper, the author of the motion to add $5 million to the VTF.
“We owe a huge debt to our veterans,” said Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), the co-chair of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance. “We need to ensure that they are taken care of when they return to the homefront.”
“Our veterans stood up and protected us,” Darling said. “This is an opportunity to stand up for them and shore up the trust fund.”
For a number of years, the Veterans Trust Fund has faced financial difficulties. The committee required that WDVA and the Board of Veterans Affairs create a viable plan for long term funding that ensures the solvency of the trust fund, which has never had a permanent source of funding. Their deadline is June 30, 2011.
Veterans can’t keep wondering if the trust fund will remain viable,” said Darling. “They need to know that the State of Wisconsin is committed to their wellbeing. Today, we put the fund on a sustainable fiscal path.”
In addition, JFC provided $68,900 GPR to ensure the availability of military funeral honors stipends for veterans service organizations for the remainder of the fiscal year.
“I look forward to working with veterans service organizations, lawmakers, and members of the Board to build on the commitment made today, and I’m hopeful that the full Legislature will support the committee’s decision when they act on the budget proposal in the coming weeks,” said WDVA Acting Secretary Donna Williams.