On Monday I read in the newspaper that Gov. Dicey Doug Ducey pitches redirecting $929,000 in veterans funds:
Gov. Doug Ducey wants to take more than $900,000 donated by taxpayers to help post-9/11 veterans and use it to operate new veterans cemeteries near Marana and Flagstaff and keep the doors open at an existing one in Sierra Vista.
Ted Vogt, the governor’s chief of operations, acknowledged the state promised the federal government, which paid $15 million to build all three facilities, it would find money to operate the new facilities.
Ducey’s proposed budget, submitted to lawmakers Friday, does that by shifting the $929,400 from the Military Family Relief Fund.
Jon Altmann, who lobbies on behalf of the Association of the U.S. Navy, said the money in that fund was solicited specifically to provide one-time help to those returning from the Middle East. That can range from remodeling a house to paying for airfare and lodging for a family member to get to the hospital where the wounded warrior is being treated.
He said the fund shift was made without consulting veterans groups, and said the move sets a bad precedent.
Message to veterans: you’re better off dead than alive. Gov. Ducey stepped on a rake with this proposal — thwap!
The governor’s office must have been lit up by phone calls from angry veterans. This bone-head move has quickly been rescinded. Ducey drops plan to fund veterans’ cemeteries:
Facing a flurry of opposition from veterans and questions from legislators, Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday abandoned his plan to pay for cemetery operations from a fund to help the families of wounded veterans.
“We’re going to find another source of revenue,” said Daniel Scarpinato, the governor’s spokesman.
Scarpinato said the governor does not yet know exactly where he will come up with the $929,400 needed to run the existing state veteran cemetery in Sierra Vista, as well as the costs for new cemeteries near Flagstaff and Marana set to open next year. But he said the governor believes the dollars can be found somewhere else in the proposed $9.1 billion budget.
Ducey’s reversal came less than 12 hours after Capitol Media Services first reported on Ducey’s proposal.