Proposal would ask voters for bonds to pay for new or improved veterans home

A House Republican wants to again propose asking Missourians to support adding to the number of beds in Missouri’s veterans homes.

Representative Lindell Shumake (photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)
Representative Lindell Shumake (photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Hannibal representative Lindell Shumake has proposed in the past two legislative sessions a resolution that would ask voters to approve $50-million in bonds to build a new veterans’ home.  He plans to file on December 1 a similar proposal, though this time it could be for more money.

This time it could be for a new home, or for the replacement or expansion and upgrading of the state veterans home at Mexico, which is more than 30 years old.

“There’s some thought that the home in Mexico, Missouri, needs to be rebuilt,” said Shumake.  “Of course our goal would be to expand bed space by however much we can.”

As Shumake’s proposal worked its way through the legislature’s 2016 session, he and others were told that the state already exceeds the federal Veterans Administration’s limit on beds in Missouri veterans homes of 1,257.  That means if Missouri builds a new veterans home it would not receive a federal reimbursement for the construction.  It could, though, for replacing a home.

Shumake would prefer for the state to build a new home, which would have around 150 beds, because that would go farther toward addressing the growing waiting list of veterans wanting to get into one.  As of May more than 1,900 veterans were on that list, with roughly a third of those ready to enter a home now.

He plans to file his proposal regardless of whether the state Veterans Commission favors a new home or a replacement.

“Creating the fund, having it there available would be the first step certainly,” said Shumake.  “Before it goes to the voters, though, we would want to have some more concrete ideas in mind as to if it’s going to be new or if it’s going to replace and increase the number of beds in an existing facility.”

Last year Shumake’s resolution cleared the House but stalled in the Senate.  If approved, it would go before voters on the November, 2018 ballot.