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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Grant would add spaces at vets’ cemetery

One bright spot in an array of down budgets is at Idaho's Veterans Services Division, though it's not in the agency's state funding, which has dropped by 50 percent in recent years. Instead, it's a federal grant: $5 million to expand the Idaho Veterans Cemetery in Boise. It's enough to add 5,500 more sites for cremated remains, and an additional 4,000 in-ground vaults for burials. The division is seeking spending authority for the federal grant; the governor recommends approval.

"We recognize the daunting task of setting a sound budget in difficult times," Col. David Brasuell, head of the division, told JFAC this morning. The agency plans to add some equipment and staffing at its nursing homes to keep up with federal and state standards, but it all would be funded by federal or dedicated funds. Its only state funding request, for $8,000 to boost a wheelchair transportation program that takes vets to medical appointments back to its 2009 funding level to meet demands, wasn't recommended by the governor; instead, he's calling for a $39,900 cut in state funding for the agency as part of omnibus reductions to most state agencies. That cut would be made up by shifting dedicated funds to cover the lost state funding. The result is a proposed budget for next year that's an 18.5 percent cut in state general funds, but a 1.8 percent increase in total funds.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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