Oregon veterans upset with proposed state budget

Salem, Ore. —  A ballot measure aimed at generating additional funding for Oregon veterans passed overwhelmingly in November. The measure sets aside 1.5% of Oregon lottery funds for veterans services; funding that’s expected to bring in $18-million over the next 2 years.

But the governor’s proposed budget for Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs’ seems to rely heavily on the lottery funding, while cutting back significantly on general funds, and that’s not sitting well with some vets.

“Felt like a slap in the face on the part of the governor and disrespect because it goes against the will of the people,” veteran Terry Haines says.

The legislative argument in support of measure 96 explicitly outlined an effort to provide critical support for veterans in addition to current funding. But based on Governor Kate Brown’s proposed budget, veteran Terry Haines says that’s not happening.

“They’re taking money away from what the will of the people voted and using it for purposes other than supporting vets,” Haines says.

The previous budget allocated $10-million dollars for ODVA, plus a $3-million dollar bond for a veterans home. If that funding was maintained this budget cycle and the lottery funds totaled $18-million as projected, that would equal about $31-million dollars for veterans services.

But the governor’s budget outlines a total of just $19.8 million, nearly 18 of that being the lottery funds, with $2-million coming from the general fund. A $10-million dollar difference from what the state put up last budget.

“10 million dollars which would normally have been appropriated for the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs to fund programs like the county veterans service offices,” Haines says.

We reached out to the governor’s office for comment and they told us referencing to the decrease in general funds as a cut is “misguided”. In a statement press secretary Bryan Hockaday says “Governor Brown’s budget invests in public and private partnerships to actually expand the capacity of ODVA to help prevent veterans homelessness, provide mental health services, and support student veterans on campus. Oregon veterans will not experience cuts to these core services.”

And while it is an overall increase in what veterans received last budget cycle, Haines says it’s not what voters, or veterans, thought they were getting.

If you want to weigh in on the governor’s proposed budget, the Senate Ways and Means committee is holding a public meeting next Friday, February 24th, from 5-7pm at the Stevenson Union Hall at Southern Oregon University.

Kristin Hosfelt anchors NBC5 News weeknights at 5, 6 and 11. Originally from the Bay Area, Kristin earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast Journalism from San Jose State University.

She came to KOBI-TV/NBC5 from Bangor, Maine where she was the evening news anchor. Kristin has won multiple journalism awards including Best Feature Reporting in the State of Maine. In 2017, her investigation on lead pipes in Medford’s water system was named Best News Series by the Oregon Association of Broadcasters.

When Kristin is not sharing the news, she’s traveling, hunting down the best burrito, or buried in a Jodi Picoult novel. She’s also a Green Bay Packers shareholder; if you see her out and about she’d be happy to tell you the story of how a California girl became a cheesehead.

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