INDIANAPOLIS – Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) had the following comments after state auditors discovered that the Indiana Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) misspent over three quarters of a million dollars of federal funds:

“The money that IDVA misused includes $20,000 for couple retreats at high-end casinos, $56,000 in child care benefits, and $683,000 for contract employees. Due to actions of the department, the state’s federal welfare dollars are now at risk because the Department of Health and Human Services can require Indiana to repay any misspent funding.

“The state currently receives over $200 million every year from Health and Human Services through the TANF program. Now, our relationship with this federal department is at risk, and our most vulnerable Hoosiers could be left out to dry.

“I want to know what the governor thinks about his department’s mistakes. The budget he supports ignores foster children, expecting mothers and our public school teachers. Then, in a department which he oversees, employees are misusing funds meant for our veterans and disadvantaged Hoosiers. To top it all off, necessary federal funds are now at risk of disappearing.

“I think the governor needs to look at where his priorities lie. Are they with protecting our veterans, our children and our most vulnerable? Or are they with corporations, private schools and direct flights to the Indianapolis International Airport? It is long past the time for the governor to take responsibility for his departments and his ineffective budget.”