Governor Brown signed the 2015-16 Budget on June 24.  The permanent $5,600,000 Local Assistance funding level for CVSO’s was approved. 

It took 3 years to make the $5.6 million funding level permanent.  Our success is due to the hard work of many organizations and participants.  Twenty six CVSO’s were able to get their Boards of Supervisors to send letters of support to the Legislature in support of AB 171 (and similar bills in the last three years), which was part of the double pronged strategy to push this funding increase through.  In conjunction with AB 171, we lobbied to have the funding increased directly through the budget process.  Both efforts complimented each other and AB 171 built popular support which enhanced the budget process efforts.  In the end, we were able to have the funding inserted into the Legislature’s version of the budget, which the Governor approved.

 

We could not have done this without the following:

CACVSO.  The Association and its leadership were instrumental in providing the technical expertise to the Legislature.  A large part of getting this funding was proving that we needed it, would use it properly, and actually help veterans.  This meant that performance metrics and anecdotal evidence had to be gathered, analyzed, and presented to the Legislature’s budget gurus at all stages of the process.  CACVSO President Chris Bingham and key Association leaders traveled frequently to  Sacramento to cultivate support for our cause.  CACVSO fiscal analyst Jack Kirwan was indispensible in translating this data into a coherent format for the Legislature’s and Governor’s budget staffs.

Veterans Service Organizations.  The VSO’s provided the grass roots, public support for the funding increase efforts.  This is an extremely important point.  The major Veterans Service Organizations who are active at the Capitol; namely the American Legion, AMVETS, California State Commanders Veterans Council, Military Officers Association of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Vietnam Veterans of America; represent well over a million Californian veterans and their dependents.  Members of these organizations came to the Capitol numerous times to testify in support of our efforts.  AB 171 was lobbied heavily during all of their Capitol Lobby Days.  Thousands of veterans from these groups called, faxed, mailed, or e-mailed the Legislature and Governor at every stage of the process for the last 3 years on this subject.  Widespread grassroots support is mandatory for budgetary allocations such as ours.  Please be sure to thank your Veterans Service Organizations in your counties.

The CVSO funding is in the Main State Budget Bill, AB 93, the Budget Act of 2015.  It reads as follows:

 

“8955-101-0001—For local assistance, Department of Veterans Affairs, for contribution to counties toward compensation and expenses of county veterans ser-vices offices, to be expended in accordance with Section 972 and following of the Military and Veterans Code…..$5,600,000”

 

This can be found on pdf page 667 of the Chaptered bill.