State lawmakers say now is the time for Colorado to pay back the money it took from the state veterans trust fund several years ago. However, they have different ideas about how to get there.
Six years ago, the Colorado General Assembly spent millions of state dollars that were supposed to go to Colorado veterans. State Representative Bernie Buescher says it's time to fix that.
"Personally I think the Legislature back in back in 2001 and 2002 stole it," said Representative Buescher. "We're now repaying them and it's overdue."
This week he introduced a bill that would pay $2.7 million back into the veterans trust fund. The fund is used to help Colorado veterans pay for health care and assisted living among other things.
"We're seeing more and more vets needing assistance in getting the benefits to which they're entitled," said Representative Buescher.
Other house members feel the bill is a step in the right direction.
"We both have the same goal," said State Representative Steve King. "We want to pay back the veteran's trust fund."
But they don't agree on how to get there.
"We have a philosophical difference in where that money is coming from," said Representative King."
Representative Buescher says because of government spending caps, his plan would transfer dollars from transportation projects and put it into the hands of veterans. Representative King says, though, if the sinkhole near Denver is any indication, the state road system needs all the funding it can get.
"We're drastically behind when it comes to maintenance of our highways," said Representative King. "Those funds need to be directed towards that."
But Representative Buescher says if the government wants to pay back the veterans in full, his plan is the only way to do it.
"My good friend Steve King would prefer to pay it out from a different source," said Representative Buescher. "Folks have tried that and it hasn't worked."
Though the debate is far from over, both Representative King and Representative Buescher say they are confident some form of the bill will pass, and veterans will finally get back what is rightfully their's.