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Bliss: House delivers final approval for veterans package

Monday, May 8, 2023


ST. PAUL – The Minnesota House on Monday provided final approval for an omnibus veterans and military affairs finance package, with minor tweaks from the version that gained preliminary passage last month.

The bill (H.F. 1937) funds Minnesota’s National Guard members and veterans after their service to our state and nation concludes – with appropriations for the state’s next two-year budget cycle. State Rep. Matt Bliss, R-Pennington, is the ranking Republican on veterans. He served on the conference committee which reconciled differences between House and Senate proposals, mainly aligning categorical spending amounts.

“We, as a state, need to support our veterans and this bill does a good job of that,” Bliss said. “Of course, there are always things you wish could have been done differently, a little better, but I’m satisfied with how this turned out. I’m pleased this bill moved through the process as a single-subject package so it could get through quickly instead of being hung up by more controversial parts of the state budget.”

The final version provides $383 million in total General Fund spending for programs to help veterans over the 2024-25 biennium – a $128 million increase from current levels. In total funding, this includes $94.5 million for the Dept. of Military Affairs and $288.5 million for the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. The bill also delivers operational funding for three new veterans homes, including one constructed in Bemidji.

House Republicans successfully added numerous provisions to the bill that were retained by the conference committee for the final bill. This includes expanding the Veteran Bonus program to veterans who currently live in Minnesota, even though they may not have lived in the state when they enlisted, as well as veterans who served in the Inherent Resolve Military campaign. Additional funding for veteran bonuses also is included in the package. The bill also increases the Veterans GI Bill tuition benefit from $3,000 to $5,000 per  year, and ups the lifetime benefit from $10,000 to $15,000.

The final bill cleared the House with sweeping support on a 131-0 vote, the same tally as for preliminary passage in mid-April. Pending the Senate’s approval, the bill will be sent to the governor for enactment.