Missouri’s veterans organizations want state government to stop spending money on things other than services for veterans.
The Veterans Capital Improvement Trust Fund was set up in the 1990s financed by a dollar charge for each admission to a Missouri casino. But the trust fund has become a convenient pot of money for other purposes and the legislature and four Governors have approved diverting tens of millions of dollars to other things. A state audit last year complained that Veterans Trust Fund money had been used to pay bills for the legislature, statewide offices, as well as for agencies such as the Office of Administration, the Department of Revenue, and Capitol Police.
Spokesman Dewey Riehn with the Missouri Association of Veterans Organization says the trust fund worked well for about nine years before the legislature with the Governor’s blessing, diverted money to children’s programs.
He says the legislature in the same year stopped using the state’s general funds for the Missouri Veterans Commission, and started using trust funds money for the commission, something else the trust fund was not set up to do.
About the same time, he says, the legislature started taking money from the trust fund for other reasons, including ten million dollars that went to the World War I Museum in Kansas City.
Riehn says veterans homes have about 1300 beds and a waiting list of 1800 veterans but the trust fund is so depleted it can’t pay for expanded facilities. The Mexico veterans home does not meet federal standards anymore. But Riehn says the gutted trust fund can’t afford to fix it.