Cutting Veterans Affairs Budget Shortsighted
Representative Marilyn Giuliano, state representative for Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook, reacted to news that Governor Malloy’s proposed budget cuts will likely include eliminating 47 positions from the Department of Veterans Affairs Commission.
A press release from Governor’s Malloy’s office regarding proposed cuts shows the move saving the state $4.7 million. However, those numbers do not factor in the return of Medicare, Medicaid and VA per diem funds back into the General Fund as required by current state statute. Veterans Affairs Commissioner Linda Schwartz stated that for the last four years, Connecticut’s Department of Veterans Affairs has actually returned 131% of its budget back to the state of Connecticut, accounting for more than $8 million extra dollars deposited back into the state’s budget coffers.
“We are still actively engaged in foreign conflicts across the globe and our valiant men and women volunteer to serve our country in armed conflict each day. While we face hard economic times at home, it’s shocking the Governor would think a time like this is the right time for eliminating VA positions and benefits as our brave veterans come home and transition to civilian life,” said Giuliano.
Giuliano contended cutting positions within the Veterans Affairs Commission will reduce the ability to serve the state’s 280,000 current veterans and those who will be coming home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I believe in fiscal responsibility and that cuts must be made to our state budget, but I don’t believe this is the place to do so. At a time when our servicemen and women are coming home facing a tough transition back into civilian life, and when the VA as a department is actually returning dollars over and above its budget back into the General Fund, we need to look elsewhere for budget cuts. This doesn’t make fiscal sense, and it doesn’t make good sense for Connecticut veterans,” said Giuliano.