By Kiera Morgan
Last November Oregon voters approved an increase in funding to support veterans. The measure would allocate roughly $18-million dollars of lottery funds on top of the roughly $10-million already being spent on veterans programs, bringing the veterans services budget up to $28-million. When legislatures reached the capital however in January they found themselves with a $1.6 billion shortfall.
The first draft of the budget from Governor Brown had cut the budget from the $28-million for veterans back down to the original $18-million. The second draft of the budget increased it to $22-million. State representative David Gomberg is chair of the committee that reviews the budget for the veterans department. He along with Senator Betsy Johnson have been working hard the last few months to find the additional $6-million to bring the veterans services program budget back up to the $28-million.
Gomberg said he is proud to say that this last week the committee voted out a $28-million dollar commitment to Oregon veterans. He said at the end when they made the final vote the veterans in attendance at the hearing stood up and applauded. With this additional funding the department of veterans affairs will be able to do a number of important things including expanding help for mental health, job counseling and housing services. He said this will also mean more funding at the local level for the county veterans service program.