Senate Republicans Call for Proper Funding of Veterans Services
The Senate Republican caucus renews their calls to restore sufficient funding to Rhode Island veterans after serious complaints surfaced regarding service cuts at the Rhode Island Veterans Home in Bristol.
“What is happening at the veterans home is unacceptable,” said Senate Minority Leader Dennis L. Algiere, (R-Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown). “Veterans at the home who previously received care in the form of physical and occupational therapy at no additional cost will now be required to pay a copay for those services or travel to the Providence V.A. for therapy.”
“We fought very hard to stop this hasty cut from happening during the budget vote in June,” said Senator Jessica de la Cruz, (R-Burrillville, Glocester, North Smithfield), “I proposed a responsible amendment to increase our investment in our veteran population, but it was defeated.”
“The governor stated that we need to make different spending decisions, but that they’re also unsure where to make those changes,” de la Cruz said. “My contention is that we need to first take care of our ‘needs’ – such as our veterans, children in DCYF care, patients at Zambarano, our failing public schools, etc. Only then should we focus on our ‘wants’ – programs like free college and free pre-K. There are all these proposals for new programs, but without appropriate funding. While existing programs are being cut to the bone.”
Senator Elaine J. Morgan, (R-Charlestown, Hopkinton, Exeter, West Greenwich), called the situation at the home shameful. “These are our nation’s heroes, and it’s great that they have a beautiful new facility, but if we can’t provide the services that were promised and that they deserve, we are failing them. We need to deliver the level of care they have earned,” Morgan said.
The cuts in funding to veterans were announced just as the Senate began deliberations on the 2020 state budget. During the floor debate, Minority Leader Algiere called for an investigation into how and why the issue was pushed onto the General Assembly just before budget voting started.
“We need the Senate Oversight Committee to hold hearings on this matter,” Algiere said. “We badly need it now that we’re seeing the effect of these cuts.”