Governor McAuliffe Announces Bipartisan Plan to Fund Two New Veterans Care Centers
At a press conference today in Richmond, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced a bipartisan compromise that will allow Virginia to proceed with the design and construction of two new centers in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads that will offer quality health care to veterans.
“No Virginian who fights for our country should have to go without the quality care they have earned,” said Governor McAuliffe. “These amendments will free up the funds necessary to build veterans care centers in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia so that we can get our brave men and women the care they need now, instead of waiting years for federal funding. Quality health care is an essential element of a productive life, and in a new Virginia economy no veteran will go without it.”
Joined by House Majority Leader Kirk Cox, Virginia Senator Toddy Puller, Virginia Senator George Barker and Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs John Harvey, Governor McAuliffe announced his “amendment in the nature of a substitute” to four pieces of legislation (SB675, SB676, HB1275, and HB1276) setting aside $66.7 million in bond funds for the construction of the two new centers.
Provisions in the bills, as currently drafted, would release the state funding only after the award of federal grant funding by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Because the amount of grant funding requested by states for projects nationwide exceeds current federal funding levels, unless the Commonwealth changes our approach it is highly unlikely Virginia will receive federal funding in the foreseeable future.
The Hampton Roads project has been on the VA grant funding list for 10 years, and the Northern Virginia project for six. Governor McAuliffe’s amendments free up Virginia’s portion of the funding to proceed on the construction of these two facilities.
Expediting the funding of these centers does not prevent Virginia from receiving Veterans Administration grant funding in the future to recoup the cost of up to 65 percent for construction of these facilities.
Senator Puller said, “These facilities will provide essential care for veterans who need it in order to live healthy and productive lives. I want to thank Governor McAuliffe and my colleagues in the General Assembly who worked hard to expedite these facilities.”
Delegate Cox added, “People who fight for this country should not have to wait months or years for quality health care. These amendments will enable Virginia to build these centers in the areas where they are needed most without waiting for federal government funding. This is another example of bipartisan cooperation yielding results for the people of Virginia.”
Senator Barker remarked, “As the home of one of the largest and fastest-growing veteran populations in the nation, we have a special responsibility to ensure that every man and woman who serves can get access to the quality and affordable care they need. The Governor’s leadership in working with the General Assembly on this important issue will make a real difference in the lives of our veterans and their families.”
Secretary Harvey said, “Virginia veterans are a unique asset to Virginia communities and to our economy. Fully realizing all they have to offer means ensuring that they have access to job skills training, safe and affordable places to live and most importantly, quality health care. These care centers will expand access to care and reduce wait times for veterans in the two areas we need it most and empower more veterans to achieve the economic success they deserve.”