A bipartisan group of lawmakers Tuesday demanded Gov. Kathy Hochul release millions of dollars donated to New York veterans that continues to languish in state coffers. 

Lawmakers are furious the state continues to withhold more than $3 million in tax check-off donations for services that benefit veterans from years ago — revealed in a January analysis by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office that showed the state has not disbursed more than $13 million in personal income tax check-offs.

The state has withheld $1.5 million for the Veterans’ Remembrance and Cemetery Maintenance and Operation Fund, $1.3 million for the Homeless Veterans Assistance Fund, roughly $360,000 for the Veterans Home Assistance Fund and about $230K for the Military Family Relief Fund.

"Three-and-a-half million dollars might not sound like a lot in the context of this budget, but it's a lot to organizations that provide that support," said Sen. Jessica Scarcella-Spanton, who chairs the Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee.

The funds, donated to the state's charitable giving program through the tax return process, have not been disbursed for at least six years, according to the comptroller. State law mandates funds be distributed the same year they're donated.

"We're talking about military families that are struggling financially, military families who have soldiers — Marines, airmen — who have been wounded or killed in action," said Sen. Jake Ashby, a former U.S. Army captain who completed tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. "That's where these funds go, and they haven't been disbursed."

Lawmakers in late March sent the Veterans' Services Department and Hochul a letter demanding the money be released immediately.

Commissioner Viviana DeCohen in a response letter Monday said the funds have started to flow — particularly for the fund for state veterans cemetery operations and maintenance — but did not say how much money has been released to date or answer questions about the delay. 

The state Department of Veterans' Services launched a pilot program Feb. 9 for the fund to aid veterans facing housing insecurity. But lawmakers said the lack of explanation abot the funding delay frustrated them — especially withholding the funding for services to help homeless veterans and their families.

Hochul's office on Tuesday referred to the correspondence in response to further questions about the delay.

Ashby says the state's withholding of the money is evidence of incompetent leadership within state government.

"That speaks to the type of leadership that we're talking about here — and it's an absence of leadership," said Ashby, a Republican from Castleton.

Scarcella-Spanton recently had a conversation about the issue with a representative from Hochul's office, who noted the recent hiring of additional staff to assist the state Department of Veterans Services. The senator said she hopes it will improve funding disbursement and oversight.

Unlike the late state budget, the donations are allocated funds the state already has, but will sit untouched until leaders take action.

"They need help with housing, they need help with job opportunities," Scarcella-Spanton said of New York veterans. "This money is sitting there right now that they should utilize, so we need to figure out a way to get that out the door. I know we can do it."

Members from both chambers held a rally Tuesday about the issue tying it to the state's West Point Day and the Legislature honoring the young people preparing to serve as cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.