Minnesota House approves compromise Veterans & Military Affairs budget

Minnesota House approves compromise Veterans & Military Affairs budget

May 9, 2022 News -- KSDM-KGHS 0

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House approved a compromise Veterans & Military Affairs finance bill following a bipartisan agreement with the Senate. This bill invests significant new funding to address veterans homelessness, provides additional funding for Minnesota’s new veterans homes, and offers service bonuses to those who served during the post-9/11 Global War on Terror.

“Minnesota’s veterans and service members make incredible sacrifices for all of us. They deserve our full support to have a healthy, strong, and prosperous future in our state,” said Rep. Rob Ecklund (DFL – International Falls), the bill author and chair of the House Labor, Industry, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee. “This bipartisan compromise includes numerous investments in those who’ve donned the uniform of the United States of America, and I’m deeply proud of the bipartisan support it received today.”

Over the last three years, House DFLers have demonstrated a dedication to ending veteran homelessness in Minnesota, and this bill funds several strategies to continue these efforts. The legislation delivers additional funding toward housing for veterans, including a grant for the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans to establish permanent housing and support for veterans, additional annual funding for short-term housing, and incentives to encourage landlords to take on veterans as tenants.

The budget includes funding to recognize post-9/11-era veterans with service bonuses of up to $2,000. There are approximately 48,000 eligible veterans, over half of whom deployed to combat operations including those in Afghanistan or Iraq. Minnesota has previously recognized veterans’ service in major wars—including World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War. Gold Star families would also be eligible for these bonuses.

Additionally, the bill increases funding for County Veteran Services Offices, and includes grants to Veteran Service Organizations including the American Legion, the VFW, Disabled American Veterans, and the Order of the Purple Heart.

In recent years, we’ve increased our reliance on the National Guard to mobilize in response to natural disasters, public health emergencies, and situations impacting public safety. To attract additional highly qualified candidates, the bill appropriates additional funding to the Minnesota National Guard for enlistment incentives.

The budget also includes an additional $26.8 million to cover construction costs of new veterans homes in Bemidji, Montevideo and Preston.  Lawmakers originally funded construction in 2018’s capital investment bill, and the new investment will help get these projects over the finish line.

The bill now goes to Governor Walz who is expected to sign the bill into law.