ST. PAUL – The Montevideo veterans home proposal took a major step forward on April 18, as chairs of the Minnesota House State Government Finance Committee and Veterans’ Affairs Division announced they will sponsor legislation that would help fund the construction of three veterans’ homes in Minnesota – Montevideo, Preston, and Bemidji – by using existing state revenue currently sitting in a stadium reserve fund.
State Representative Tim Miller (R-Prinsburg) strongly supports the idea.
“Instead of picking one city as the new recipient of a veterans home, these chairs found a way to fund all three,” Miller said. “For that I am very thankful, and am hopeful that lawmakers in the House and Senate will help make these dreams reality.”
With financial backing from the state and local communities, the federal government will cover 65 percent of the veterans homes’ cost. Though the House State Government Finance bill included funding for these homes last year, Governor Dayton vetoed the bill.
The Vikings stadium reserve used to fund the veterans homes currently has an excess balance of $58 million. The reserve 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.
Governor Dayton has previously referred to U.S. Bank Stadium as “the people’s stadium.” By utilizing existing funds that are far above what is needed to operate the facility, Miller said this money can be used to construct “the people’s veterans’ homes” in three areas of our state.
“The Vikings have their new stadium and don’t need any more of our money, so it’s time to use it to help those who fought for our freedoms,” Miller said. “We’ve worked long and hard on this issue over the past couple of years, and I hope this is the proposal that finally brings state funds to a Montevideo veterans home.”
Miller said the funding proposal will be included as part of a comprehensive state government finance budget bill that will be debated on the House floor in the weeks ahead.