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Oklahoma VA Requesting New Building

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

"Two separate entities" is the way the state Veterans affairs office describes its relationship with the federal VA.

While funding and some regulations do connect the two, current issues between the two are vastly different.

American Flags lining the main hall seem to be the only feature of pride on the walls of the 90-year-old building that houses the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs.

"Obviously we need a new building, that goes without saying," said ODVA's Shane Faulkner.

Shane Faulkner and ODVA employees worry about cracks, mold, and when it rains, the basement commonly floods, which is the office for the IT department.

"We don't feel this building shows the pride the veterans should have in their memorial building," said Faulkner.

Neither does Rep. Gary Banz, who's now pushed legislation through a six-year-old legislation plan that calls for up to $40 million to be used to build one new building for two departments, the state's VA and Mental Health.

"Both (buildings) are being on the verge of being condemned," said Banz.

Official condemned notice from the state, along with the money, is why Banz feels now is the right time to build. Bonds given to the ODVA 10 and 15 years ago will be used and Banz says this plan won't impact the overall budget like the Native American Museum or Capitol Repairs.

"That's all new money. What we're talking about has absolutely zero impact on this year's budget or budgets going forward," said Banz.

The Bill still has to pass through the full house and senate and be signed by Gov. Fallin.

Session is expected to end Friday.

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