BARSTOW — The shuttering of the veterans home here is part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s fiscal blueprint meant to alleviate the financial hit California has taken amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Released on Thursday, Newsom’s revised budget proposed to “initiate the closure” of the Veterans Home of California-Barstow and a one-year delay for realignment at VHC-Chula Vista and Yountville.
If approved, the changes would net state General Fund savings in Fiscal Year 2020-21 of $2.6 million, according to the revised budget. Long-term savings that would result from the Barstow facility’s closure are expected to be $14 million annually.
In total, the governor’s revisions would slash $6.1 billion from the state’s budget. The cuts are part of a plan to cover a $54.3 billion budget deficit caused by plummeting state revenues after a mandatory, statewide stay-at-home order forced most businesses to close and put more than 4.7 million people out of work.
Overall, the $203 billion spending plan is about 5% lower than what lawmakers approved last year.
City officials in Barstow, meanwhile, aren’t ready to give up the facility that was founded in 1996 as the second home for veterans in California and, at the time, the first built in more than 100 years.
“The City of Barstow will write a letter to Gov. Newsom pointing out the necessity of the Barstow Veterans Home,” Barstow Mayor Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre told the Daily Press. “We’ll also encourage our surrounding cities, the County of San Bernardino and local citizens to do the same.”
But a Department of Veterans Affairs letter sent to the “Barstow Veterans Home Family” on Thursday discusses the closure as if it were a foregone conclusion.
In the letter, which was obtained by the Daily Press, CalVet Secretary Vito Imbasciani said, “While this closure will be difficult for all of us, it is not entirely unexpected.”
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