October 25, 2020

Sen. Felag says Veterans Article 16 in FY 2021 budget is unacceptable

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I have a real problem with Article 16 of the Governor’s proposed FY 2021 state budget, which relates to the state Veterans Home in Bristol. The “revenue generators” proposed in the article are completely unacceptable and, frankly, they are insulting to our state’s veterans.

The “revenue generators” the administration is proposing are:
•Taking 100% of a veteran’s income to live at the Veterans Home, rather than the 80% currently in law.
•Confiscating deceased veterans’ estates in probate if no next of kin can be located.
•Increasing the fee for spouses buried next to their partners in the Veterans Cemetery.

All of these unacceptable “revenue generators” are proposed to offset increased costs and the financial shortfall the home is facing due to improper budgeting. It is unconscionable to expect our veterans to pay for this increased cost within this brand new, state-of-the-art facility, which is the final home for our esteemed and honored veterans. We need to utilize better budgeting techniques.

As a Vice-Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs committee, I strongly oppose the proposed budget Article 16 taking more money out of our veterans’ pockets while glossing over the budgetary problems of the Veterans Home. I have also co-sponsored a Senate bill to require the General Assembly to appropriate necessary funds for the furnishing of in-house occupational therapy services for all residents of the Bristol Veterans Home.

Our veterans have already paid and sacrificed enough, and they deserve to live in the Bristol Veterans Home without having their pockets fleeced and bank accounts choked dry.

My Number One priority is eliminating Article 16 relating to veterans’ services in the 2021 budget. I encouraged all residents to attend our Senate Finance committee meeting on this issue next Tuesday, February 4th.

Sen. Walter S. Felag, a Democrat, represents District 10 (Warren, Bristol, Tiverton) in the Rhode Island Senate. He resides in Warren.

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