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'A slap in the face': Veterans disappointed in governor's veto of funds for Southwest Montana Veterans’ Home

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Posted at 4:11 PM, May 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-29 10:41:30-04

BUTTE — Veterans are disappointed at the governor’s recent veto of funding that would have provided extra housing for elderly veterans at a Butte veterans home.

“It was a punch in the gut. The governor doesn’t really realize what he’s done to the veterans of the state of Montana,” said Dave Williamson the chairman of the Southwest Montana Veterans Home Foundation.

Gov. Greg Gianforte removed $6 million from House Bill 5 that would have built a sixth cottage to the Southwest Montana Veterans Home adding 12 rooms for veterans.

Veteran home officials believe the veto was not necessary.

“You’re talking about House Bill 5 being over a billion dollars of state-funded projects, $6 million is a drop in the bucket,” said Williamson.

The governor justified the veto by stating that the federal government should help pay for this project instead of the entire bill falling on the state. In a statement for Gianforte, House Bill 5 “appropriates $6 million for the project, leaving Montana taxpayers crossing our fingers that the federal government might reimburse us once we’ve spent the money. That, however, is not a wise strategy, and I will not hold my breath that the federal government will repay the state any portion.”

However, some believe the veto shows a lack of respect for Montana’s veterans.

“It’s a slap in the face of those who have given us our country and assure our freedoms. We need to safeguard them. These people have safeguarded this country, it’s our turn to repay them,” said Butte veteran Bill Willing.

Veteran home officials are asking voters to reach out to their representatives to ask them to overturn the veto.