The original version of this year’s House Bill 3766 would have tightened requirements, making benefits expire 15 years after a veteran’s honorable discharge and require that they serve four years (instead of just 181 days) before becoming eligible for the program.
Those seemed like reasonable goals for an otherwise laudable program that has swelled dramatically in scope and cost.
After pushback from advocacy groups, the revised bill will make only minor changes, leaving the program intact.
In 2009, the law — originally conceived as a tuition program for former military — was modified to allow vets to pass along their eligibility for 150 credit hours to their kids.
The expanded program was expected to cost $10 million a year. In 2015, it cost $178 million.
Our military members and their families serve and sacrifice for our nation. They deserve whatever benefits our state can afford.
But in a year of major budget cutting, the state can’t afford another unfunded mandate.