GovernmentThe Putnam Examiner

Governor Refutes Claims of Cuts to Veterans’ Programs 

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Governor Kathy Hochul’s office refuted claims made at recent press conference in Putnam County regarding cuts to numerous programs in her 2023-24 budget.

State and Putnam County officials who gathered in Mahopac Feb. 17 contended Hochul to proposed eliminating funding for 17 veterans’ programs that were added by the Legislature last year, totaling $2.6 million.

“A $227 billion budget, with billions of dollars in new funding, and the governor has proposed cutting millions of dollars that support our brave veterans and servicemembers. It is egregious that Gov. Hochul does not put veterans first,” remarked State Assemblyman Matt Slater (R/Yorktown), who recently signed onto letters to the governor from Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre, chair of the Assembly Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Assemblyman Chris Burdick, both Democrats.

“If you talk to a lot of veterans, they will tell you that the services in our state are subpar, and that’s unacceptable. We not only reject the governor’s proposal, but we also need to do more for our valiant veterans,” Slater said.

However, a spokesperson for Hochul released a statement Feb. 27 that read: “Governor Hochul’s Executive Budget makes transformative investments to make New York more affordable, more livable and safer, and she looks forward to working with the Legislature on a final budget that meets the needs of all New Yorkers.”

In addition, Hochul’s office stated the Governor’s 2023 budget increased funding for the Dwyer program by more than $3 million in her Executive Budget, rather than “forcing” the Legislature to add it in negotiations. The funding increase from $4.5 million to $7.7 million allowed programming to occur in 62 counties.

The 2023 budget also added 16 full-time employees to the Division of Veterans Services (which will be renamed the Department of Veterans Services on April 1 2023), allowing them to provide additional programming to serve veterans.

In the 2024 Executive Budget, Hochul increases funding for the Dwyer program to $7.715 million and includes new initiatives to serve veterans, such as: $1.1m for the Homeless Veterans’ Housing program; $300,000 for the first-ever fleet of Mobile Veterans Clinics; $500,000 to create a Veterans’ Memorial Registry; $500,000 over two years for a strategic and modernization plan for the five State Veterans’ Homes; Changing civil service laws that make it easier for state workers in positions designated for disabled veterans to transfer into competitive positions in the civil service system; requiring healthcare facilities to inform veterans of their eligibility for a Veterans Nursing Home; and doubling the number of FreshConnect checks available for veterans experiencing food insecurity.

Joining Slater at the Mahopac VFW were Putnam County Executive Kevin Byrne, Putnam County Sheriff Kevin McConville, Megan Castellano and Marine Corps Veteran Jack Duncan from Guardian Revival, local veterans and veteran advocacy groups.

“There are a number of examples in Putnam County where our local veterans’ organizations could have benefitted from these types of programs and these dollars,” Byrne said.

“I’ve been working on veterans’ issues since 1985 and, every year, we have to go to Albany and Washington and beg for funding when we shouldn’t have to. We went and served our country. Why are we begging to be taken care of and helped? Some of us have regular wounds, some of us have hidden wounds. We shouldn’t have to beg for help, that has to change,” said Karl Rhode, Director of the Putnam County Veterans’ Service Agency.



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