A Preview Of A GOP 2014 Lit Piece

On April 24, 2013, in Gov. Dayton, Veterans, by tommy

I wrote a Community Voices story over at Twin Cities Daily Planet – “Governor’s Office, Legislature at odds over funding for Veterans Home” – because I’m a recipient of a Media Skills Fellowship and I’ll be covering veterans issues. From it:

Long story short: the Minnesota Veterans Home in Minneapolis used to be a pit. Among the Home’s campus were old buildings that had not been well maintained along with others that even had they been properly maintained were obsolete anyway. And, a dangerous one. In addition to the deferred maintenance there were problems with care to the point that patients had died. So a plan was put in place, and the turn around began.

Bottom line? There’s a 3 phase plan; phase 1 has been completed. Phase 2 has been funded, but cannot commence until Phase 3 has been funded. So this project to fix a major problem is on hold, because for some reason, the leadership hasn’t figured out what Governor Dayton’s office has: not only is it the right thing to do, it’s political suicide to do the wrong thing and NOT fund it. Right now, in the veteran community, Dayton is a hero. House and Senate leadership? Not so much, to put it mildly….

Here’s a quote from a GOPer on this very subject:

“We started renovation of the Minneapolis home back in 2009,” said Rep. Bob Dettmer (R-Forest Lake). “Are we really doing what we should be doing for our men and women who have served our country? I really feel that the perception out there that we’re not. We’re putting money into museums, state trails, sculpture gardens, nature centers and so forth. I think our men and women that have served our country over the years really deserve better. … I think we should be looking at finishing that project in Minneapolis and then going forward with some of these other concepts.”

Does anyone really think that if the DFL-led House and Senate pass a bonding bill without funding a project that’s already started that Democrats across the state won’t be seeing lit pieces based on that above quote hitting mail boxes in their districts?

This is an unforced error. And that’s becoming a pattern; just last week The Big E wrote about this one: “First raise the minimum wage”.

Any bets the GOP 2014 Lit Piece on not funding the veterans home will include that one, too?

The House and the Senate need to step up their games, and fast. Funding the veterans home, which includes a large chunk of federal money, is a good start.

(cross posted at MnProgressiveProject.com)

Tagged with:
 

Long story short: the Minnesota Veterans Home in Minneapolis used to be a pit. Among the Home’s campus were old buildings that had not been well maintained along with others that even had they been properly maintained were obsolete anyway. And, a dangerous one. In addition to the deferred maintenance there were problems with care to the point that patients had died. So a plan was put in place, and the turn around began. From an October 14, 2010 Strib story:

Outside, earth movers were starting work on a new nursing home that in two years will replace a Depression-era building condemned after steel supports began rusting away.

Last Friday a group of veterans representing nine major veterans groups called The Commanders Task Force held a press conference at the State Capitol concerning this. From their press release:

“The state veterans community is alarmed that funding for the project is in limbo at this time in both the House and Senate.”

The plan called for three phases. The first, referenced in that Strib story, was fully funded and completed. Phase II, the demolition of the north half of a building that veterans groups contend is far short of minimal standards for a quality nursing home, is funded. But, Phase II is on hold, because Phase III is the demolition of the south half of the same building. Quite simply, Phase II can’t move forward as planned if Phase III isn’t funded and scheduled.

Last Saturday, at the Minnesota 7th District VFW (“Veterans of Foreign Wars”) Convention, the Legislative Committee gave their report: DFL Leadership in neither the House nor the Senate seem to consider finishing this project a priority; in fact, House Leadership announced appointment of the Speaker’s Select Committee On Veterans Housing minutes before the Commanders Task Force’s press conference on Friday. This Committee, appointed by Speaker of the House Paul Thissen (DFL-61B) , was charged with “examin(ing) housing issues facing Minnesota veterans, including veterans with long-term care needs and homeless veterans. The committee will issue a report with their recommendations by February 1, 2014.”

To put it quite mildly, the Legislative Update report was not warmly received by the veterans in attendance. For many, far from it.

The House and the Senate’s priorities differ with Governor Dayton’s as Governor Dayton has called for fully funding Phase III. This puts the Governor’s Office squarely at odds with the Legislature on an issue that American Legion Commander Don Pankake called the number one legislative priority for the nine veterans organizations holding last Friday’s press conference. Governor Dayton’s proposed Capital Bonding bill includes funding for Phase 3 for the Minneapolis veterans Home. “Governor Dayton has committed to funding the next phase of the Minneapolis Veterans Home in his last two bonding proposals,” said Dayton spokesperson Katharine Tinucci in an email statement today. “For the benefit of our veterans, who have given so much, the Governor will continue advocating for that position throughout this legislative session.”

The State House of Representatives bonding proposal does not. A request for comment to the DFL House Caucus regarding Speaker Thissen’s thoughts about including Phase III funding this session was not returned at time of publication. With the Legislature Constitutionally required to finish its work by Monday, May 20th, Veterans groups will be watching closely to see if Legislators follow Governor Dayton’s lead by including funding for a project underway.

(cross posted from Twin Cities Daily Planet)

Tagged with: