Lawmakers Suggest New Rules for Iowa Veterans Fund Grants

(Radio Iowa) A group of lawmakers is recommending that new guidelines be developed for grants from the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund. The grants are for things like car or home repairs or medical expenses. Republican Senator Mike Klemish of Spillville says there could be different metrics than just income and asset tests, so the grants can address true emergencies.

“I would recommend formulating a rubric which gives you some flexibility in how you score those applications,” Klemish says. Republican Representative Megan Jones of Sioux Rapids says the bright line tests of a veteran’s income and assets are causing problems.

“Maybe there need to be different qualifiers or different processes by which these funds are distributed,” Jones says. The Iowa Veterans Commission ran out of money when it raised income and asset tests for the grants and the governor used pandemic relief funds to address the deficit. Fund managers are recommending grants again be limited to veterans with an income at not more than 200 percent of the federal poverty level who have no more than 15-thousand dollars in assets that could be quickly converted into cash. Todd Jacobus is commandant of the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs.

“So in other words we don’t have somebody sitting there with $20,000 available in their bank account or available to support a requirement and then they come to us for $5000 to repair their vehicle,” Jacobus said. “If you have that amount of money available, then you don’t necessarily have an emergency that the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund should cover.” Jacobus says veterans are keenly aware of the grants are limited to low income veterans and removing these restrictions would likely prompt a flood of applications.

“Somebody who has $50,000 in the bank, I guarantee you they are going to submit an application to get additional funds from the state,” he says. Senator Nate Boulton, a Democrat from Des Moines, says the Education Savings Accounts Republicans established to cover parents’ private school expenses will soon have no income or asset limits and this program for veterans should abandon its plan to limit who qualifies.

“I think this is one that just needs to go back to the drawing board,” Boulton says, “and shouldn’t go any further.” According to the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs, there are 185-thousand veterans living in Iowa and six percent of them are at or below the federal poverty line.

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