From the Office of State Senator Troy Fraser

For Immediate Release
February 28, 2001
Contact: William A. Scott - (512) 463-0124

Fraser Bill Would Establish Special Fund for Veterans'Care

AUSTIN -- State Senator Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, filed legislation today to create a permanent fund for veterans' care.

"Texas is home to nearly 1.6 million veterans and I'm committed to helping them achieve their number one legislative priority by creating this permanent fund for their care," Fraser said.

Fraser, whose Senate district includes more than 56,000 veterans, said the fund would comprise money transferred at the discretion of the Legislature, and could also accept gifts and grants.

"The state budget is tight for the coming biennium, and my intent is to allocate some of the proceeds of the tobacco lawsuit to the veterans' fund," Fraser said. "I'd like to see the fund used for a variety of purposes -- everything from better health care and more veterans homes to examining the feasibility of a state veterans cemetery system."

Earmarking some of the state's funds received through its lawsuit settlement with the tobacco industry is consistent with other health kinds of care programs the Legislature has established for Texas children, Fraser said.

The legislation, Senate Bill 976, creates a special, permanent fund -- outside of general revenue funds -- in the state treasury for veterans' care. The bill states that money in the fund "may be appropriated to fund, enhance, and improve veterans' programs as directed by the Legislature."

Fraser, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, said he would pursue a specific level of funding for the veterans' fund after state lawmakers have a clearer indication of the amount of funding that will be available.

"We're just beginning mark-up on the budget now, and the appropriations process is really the best way to determine what a realistic figure for the fund might be," Fraser said. "The first step is getting the fund designated as a special pot of money that can only be used for veterans' care, and that's what Senate Bill 976 does."

Fraser noted that two studies, one conducted by U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and another conducted for the Texas Veterans Commission, determined that Texas needs as many as 40 veterans homes to provide long-term care for Texas veterans.

In 1997, Fraser co-authored legislature that authorized the construction of the first four veterans homes, located in Temple, Bonham, Floresville and Big Spring. They were the first veterans homes created in Texas since the homes for Civil War veterans closed.