Missouri veterans homes are getting a significant boost as a result of new legislation establishing a dedicated source of funding.
Governor Jay Nixon attended a ceremonial bill signing at the St. Louis Veterans Home on Thursday.
Missouri currently has seven nursing homes which serve some 1,300 veterans. The legislation will allocate $32 million to the Missouri Veterans Commission annually, up from just $6.6 million, and will be paid for through per-patron fees paid by casinos.
The move comes just as the state’s veteran’s trust fund had shrunk nearly 80 percent, from $80 million down to $17 million.
Governor Nixon says the veteran's budget allocation will likely mean reductions for other state programs, but he viewed this as a priority.
“One of those priorities is making sure that the veterans are taken care of in Missouri, that’s why we built these [veteran’s] homes,” Nixon said. “Getting a sureness for a method to fund them, we think, is a very high priority for the state and certainly it will mean other things have to be trimmed here and there, but that is a small price to pay for the freedom these folks earned us."
Early childhood programs previously paid for with casino fees will now receive funding from the state lottery, as well as $35 million from a nationwide tobacco settlement.