Michigan House approves funding for new veterans affairs agency

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The Michigan House this afternoon approved a state budget that includes an additional $8.6 million to create a state veterans affairs agency to better assist Michigan veterans, state Rep. Nancy Jenkins announced.

Jenkins, chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military and Veterans Affairs, spoke today on the House floor about the special funding, which also includes $600,000 for Veterans Service Organizations to better connect veterans with the benefits they deserve.

“Many people say that every day should be Memorial Day, and the Michigan House proved that today by remembering those who sacrificed so much to preserve our freedoms,” said Jenkins, R-Clayton.  “Michigan currently ranks last compared to other states and territories in the nation when it comes to getting benefits to our veterans, which is totally unacceptable.  I’m proud to say this budget will go a long way toward turning that abysmal ranking around.”

Jenkins also said the budget sets in place reporting requirements to ensure legislative oversight as the new agency gets off the ground, benefitting not only veterans but Michigan taxpayers.

HB 4328 also includes $351 million in additional funding for roads and infrastructure.  A portion of the new road funding dollars will be restricted in order to meet the federal match.  The rest of the funding is a new budgetary line item to be used for “high priority roads” in Michigan.

“The new budget makes huge headway to improve our roads and bridges in Michigan,” Jenkins said.  “We have a long way to go, but it’s a great start, especially considering that we’ve been able to start fixing our roads without any fee or tax increases.”

Other highlights of the budget bills include:

  • $444 million in additional funding for K-12 education;
  • $75 million for the state’s Rainy Day Fund; and
  • $20 million in individual tax relief.

HB 4328 and HB 4228, the other budget measure, now go to the Senate for consideration.