Ducey pitches redirecting $929,000 in veterans funds

Gov. Doug Ducey wants to take more than $900,000 donated by taxpayers to help

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By Howard Fischer

Gov. Doug Ducey wants to take more than $900,000 donated by taxpayers to help post-9/11 veterans and use it to operate new veterans cemeteries near Marana and Flagstaff and keep the doors open at an existing one in Sierra Vista.

Ted Vogt, the governor’s chief of operations, acknowledged the state promised the federal government, which paid $15 million to build all three facilities, it would find money to operate the new facilities.

Ducey’s proposed budget, submitted to lawmakers Friday, does that by shifting the $929,400 from the Military Family Relief Fund.

Jon Altmann, who lobbies on behalf of the Association of the U.S. Navy, said the money in that fund was solicited specifically to provide one-time help to those returning from the Middle East. That can range from remodeling a house to paying for airfare and lodging for a family member to get to the hospital where the wounded warrior is being treated.

He said the fund shift was made without consulting veterans groups, and said the move sets a bad precedent.

Dave Lucier, legislative coordinator of Unified Arizona Veterans, an umbrella organization of veteran groups, was more succinct in his objections to the raid.

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