GOP lawmaker questions Dayton over veterans issues

A dustup over state funding for veterans took a new twist Monday when a Republican legislator questioned DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's leadership on the issue.

Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, began criticizing the administration Friday during a meeting of the State Government and Veterans conference committee. He was upset that some of Dayton's commissioners had claimed that GOP budgets would result in cuts to veterans programs and possibly force the closing of a state veterans home.

Parry, who insists the budget protects veterans from any cuts, said he raised the leadership question in a letter to Dayton and during a brief meeting in the governor's office.

"I know what leadership is all about," Parry said. "I come from a long line of military families. I grew up in a military family. I served the Army National Guard for eight years. I know leadership, and this is not the kind of leadership that our state needs from our governor."

Some of Dayton's commissioners have suggested the vagueness of the bill could result in cuts to veterans programs. But Republicans insist their budget proposals protect veterans from any cuts. Dayton spokesman Bob Hume said the governor met briefly Monday with Republican legislators to try to resolve the disagreement.

"They had a very pointed conversation on funding for veterans and military affairs," said Hume. "There's very little in the budget that's more important than that, which is why we offered up common ground. The fact that they chose to reject it is unfortunate."

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