Ashby demands release of veterans’ funds

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State Sen. Jake Ashby speaks on the release of veterans’ donations at a Capitol press conference with Senate and Assembly colleagues. Contributed photo

Sen. Jake Ashby (R,C-Castleton) and legislative colleagues recently held a press conference in Albany urging the Hochul administration to end what they claim is the unlawful practice of withholding tax check-off donations for veterans’ services groups and release all funds immediately.

“Resources for our veterans shouldn’t be sitting in a bank account when the law requires them to be distributed annually to organizations providing housing and critical support services. This is really simple. New Yorkers donated the funds to make a difference in the real world, not in an agency’s balance sheet,” said Ashby, the ranking member on the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs.

“Our veterans have served our country with bravery and it’s our responsibility as their representatives to make sure that they receive the support they deserve,” said Sen. Jessica Scarcella Spanton, chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs. “It’s completely unacceptable that over $3 million in funding, including support for homeless veterans, has been left untouched. I will continue to push for transparency and oversight measures to guarantee that these allocated funds are promptly disbursed to provide essential assistance to those who have served our country. Our veterans cannot afford to wait any longer.”

When New Yorkers are preparing their taxes, they have an option to donate a portion of their return to one of 34 charitable organizations. A recent comptroller audit proved that, over the last six years, less than one-third of the funds had been distributed. State law requires the funds to be disbursed yearly and requires agencies to submit attendant reports to the Legislature and comptroller’s office.

Ashby and his colleagues on the Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs are urging the governor to release over $1.7 million in veterans’ housing assistance funds, over $1.5 million for veteran’s cemetery operations and hundreds of thousands of dollars in relief for military families.

“We’re not asking them to release some of the funds, or to release more of the funds next year. We want all of the funds to be released immediately and we want them to be distributed every year like they’re supposed to be moving forward,” Ashby said. “How can New Yorkers trust this administration to budget their tax dollars carefully when they can’t even distribute donations?”