Walker’s veto for King Veteran’s Home faces bipartisan criticism
A provision in the 2017-’19 state budget that would oversee the transfer of funds from one veteran organization to another was eliminated before the budget was signed into law last month.Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger
Officials at King’s Veteran Home and lawmakers from both parties are speaking out against one of Gov. Scott Walker’s 99 vetoes to the state budget which
King's Veteran Home is the largest long-term veteran care facility in Wisconsin and second largest in the nation, providing over 700 veterans and their spouses with
An audit conducted in 2015-2016 showed that nearly $55 million has been transferred from King to the Veteran’s Trust Fund since 2003. The Veteran’s Trust Fund is an internal agency of the Wisconsin Department of Veteran Affairs, which pays for other veteran programs and agency salaries.
Carla Vigue, a Wisconsin Department of Veteran’s Affairs spokesperson, defended Walker’s veto, which deleted a provision in the budget to give more oversight of funds to ensure veterans at the long-term care facility have adequate funding.
Care at King exceeds what is offered at most long-term facilities, according to Vigue.
The loss of money for the facility to the Veteran’s Trust Fund, however, has resulted in a shortage of nurses, meaning that more workers have logged overtime hours.
According to the audit, nurses at King in the 2015-2016 year alone logged a total of 65,100 overtime hours, up from 44,300 overtime hours reported the year before. It is also reported that 75 percent of workers at King
The proposed budget vetoed by Walker would have required the WDVA to obtain legislative approval before money was removed from King, making it more difficult to reduce the home’s budget.
Proponents of the veto decision, including Dan Zimmerman, the secretary of the WDVA, say the oversight policy was unnecessary and added more bureaucracy to the system.
Tom Evenson, Walker’s spokesperson defended Walker’s choice, saying that the additional oversight isn’t necessary because the information is already available to the public.
“These transfers are completely transparent and publicly available information," Evenson told The Cap Times.
In response to Walker’s choice to veto this portion of the budget, representatives from both parties have expressed their disappointment with both Walker and Zimmerman.
State Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, also expressed concern over the decrease in oversight.
“To do our job was to protect the powers of the purse string and to make sure we're being as accountable and transparent as possible," Darling said.
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