Legislators Announce Plans To Fund Minnesota Veterans Homes
The House State Government Finance Committee has announced plans to fund three critically needed veterans homes across Minnesota.
Using excess funds from the Vikings stadium reserve account, the bill would fund veterans homes in Bemidji, Preston, and Montevideo. With financial backing from the state and local communities, the federal government will cover 65% of the veterans homes’ cost.
The Vikings stadium reserve used to fund the veterans homes currently has an excess balance of $58 million, which is expected to grow to $120 million by the end of fiscal year 2021. Under the bill, the stadium reserve account would be capped at 125% of the annual payments of the stadium bonds. The House bill ensures excess funds are put to use, rather than sitting idle, while still protecting against a drop in revenues. Currently, there is no cap on the amount of the reserve.
Wednesday, members of the House State Government Finance Committee, as well as stakeholders and advocates from the communities seeking funds to build the veterans homes, discussed the new proposal at a press conference at the Capitol in St. Paul. Speakers from the Bemidji area included Rep. Matt Bliss, U.S. Army Veteran Joe Vene, and Beltrami County Veterans Service Officer Scotty Allison.
Currently, Minnesota has five veterans homes in Fergus Falls, Hastings, Luverne, Minneapolis, and Silver Bay, which have a combined total of 824 beds. A new veterans home hasn’t been built since the mid-1990s, and veterans are placed on a waiting list for more than a year before getting placed in a home. Officials at today’s press conference say even if the money were approved this session, it could take five or more years to open the new homes.