State denied $18 million request for upgrades
Mayor Brian Smith is asking why state lawmakers ignored a budget request for $18 million in upgrades at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King.
Smith noted that the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) requested an $18 million campus-wide upgrade project at King in 2015, but lawmakers refused to provide funding for the facility upgrades and maintenance requests.
He said the state instead opted to transfer $18 million from the nursing homes to cover a budget shortfall in the Veterans Trust Fund.
“Rather than raiding $18 million from our veteran nursing homes like politicians have proposed, we should use those dollars to protect our veterans and improve their care,” said Smith, who is a Democratic candidate for the state Senate. “Here we are with $18 million worth of shovel-ready upgrade projects at King. It’s time to put the partisan bickering aside, roll up our sleeves, and get to work protecting our veterans.”
In the 2015-17 Capital Budget request, the DVA requested $18.47 million in maintenance projects at King to upgrade the fire alarm system, food service system, lighting and electrical systems.
“Several buildings at King are not equipped with an intelligent fire alarm panel, which makes it difficult to determine the location of a fire,” the DVA’s request noted.
The project would also replace ceiling tiles, install new flooring, and renovate several rooms in the skilled nursing buildings.
“Over the years, the ceiling tiles have become stained with curling and broken pieces,” the DVA reported in 2015. “Stained ceiling tiles also raise infection control issues.”
The Joint Finance Committee rejected the request and provided no state funding for the upgrade and maintenance projects.
“The problem with politicians in Madison is that they care more about looking good than doing the right thing,” Smith said. “I want to move past the partisan politics and do right by the men and women who rely on our veteran nursing homes. We need to approve the department’s building request to improve conditions at King, create new jobs and give our veterans the care and services they’ve earned.”