ST. PAUL – State Representative Greg Davids (R-Preston) said he is very concerned about a spending proposal being pushed by the House majority that spends $17 million less on veterans programs over the next two years than Governor Pawlenty recommended, and $5 million less for agriculture needs.
“I’m actually shocked that the majority party wants to cut veterans in this way,” Davids said. “I know that during a budget reduction process, every program undergoes scrutiny. But those who serve or have served in our military should always be spared from budget cuts.”
Minnesota’s Veterans Affairs Department would receive nearly $193 million over the next two years if no changes are made in the current budget. Governor Pawlenty urged the Legislature to raise that total to $203 million, which is a 5.2% increase.
But the House majority’s proposal would reduce that total to roughly $187 million, which is 3% less than the current budget and 8.4% below the Governor's proposal.
Davids said the bill would also significantly reduce ethanol producer payments.
“Agriculture is the backbone of our state’s economy, and our veterans are the reason our country is the greatest in the world,” Davids said. “If we can’t hold these two areas in the state’s budget harmless, then it’s time for our legislative leaders to re-evaluate their priorities.”
Davids expects the full House to debate the agriculture and veterans affairs funding proposal in the coming weeks.