Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Utah House Democrats Applaud Passage of Veterans Hospital Funding Bill

SALT LAKE CITY - January 24, 2008 - Veterans in northern Utah and from around the Rocky Mountain west will now have access to a second Veterans’ Nursing Home.

Legislators in the Utah House of Representatives have passed HB 129 today, which appropriates $19.7 million dollars for design and construction of a Veterans’ Nursing Home in Ogden. The legislation, which will prepay the costs associated with the construction of the facility, states that no other nursing homes will be considered in Utah until the federal government repays the state of Utah.

Democrats, Representative Neil Hansen, Ogden and LaWanna Shurtliff, Ogden, have both been ardent supporters of the Veterans Nursing Home project, and it was Representative Hansen who suggested that the state appropriate the necessary funds to build the nursing home. A $5,000,000 bond has previously been appropriated by the legislature, and land for the building has been donated to the Veterans Administration for the nursing home, but the project had been stuck on a growing list of projects awaiting federal funds.

“Everyday that passes by is another day that we're not giving our veterans back something for their service," says Hansen. "I suggested to my colleagues in the legislature that we find a way to fund the project with state dollars and have the federal government come in and reimburse us."

Representative Shurtliff agrees. “The Veterans Administration has wanted this for so long, and Utah veterans have needed this for so long. I feel strongly that we need this to happen, and I was even willing to sponsor the bill so that we could get things moving,” said Shurtliff.

It was Representative Hansen who suggested that the appropriation be included in the Governor’s budget.

“I approached the Governor’s office and asked them to consider adding this to the governor’s budget. I am pleased that we are moving forward.”

The federal government will also pay nearly all operating costs of the nursing home.

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