AUGUSTA –– A bill that bolsters veterans services and provides tuition waivers at public colleges for National Guard members received unanimous support Friday, just two days after funding for the proposal sparked a nasty floor debate in the House of Representatives.

The bill approved Friday was amended to change the funding source, which ostensibly fanned partisan discord on Wednesday. The amended proposal contains many of the same provisions that were presented earlier this week. It includes new positions at the Bureau of Veterans Services designed to help veterans entering school and homeless veterans. The bill also provides a sales tax exemption to veterans’ organizations supporting treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The slate of proposals was developed by a veterans commission created by legislation sponsored by Rep. Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, a Marine Corps veteran. The commission found that less than half of the estimated 140,000 veterans in Maine are enrolled with the federal Department of Veterans Affairs and are not receiving health care and other benefits for which they are eligible. The commission also found that Maine has one veterans service officer for every 20,000 veterans in the state, a ratio that is far behind that of other states.

The tuition bill was introduced last year by Republican Rep. Kenneth Fredette, the House minority leader from Newport.

Passage of the proposal appeared unlikely Wednesday after Fredette and Republicans objected to Golden’s amendment to pay for the tuition bill with revenues generated from the state’s liquor contract. Golden’s proposal would have rolled the tuition waiver into one of the larger bills adding several new positions within the Bureau of Veterans.

However, the bill’s fortunes improved after a floor fight in which Republicans accused Democrats using veterans for political purposes. The two sides eventually settled a funding compromise that uses an excess $628,000 from the Gambling Control Board and $2.5 million from unneeded debt service funding for the University of Maine System. Future costs for the tuition bill would be included in the baseline of the state’s two-year budgets.

“We can be proud of how the Legislature came together to do right by our veterans and by our National Guard members,” Golden said in a statement. “Every policy proposal in this bill has earned overwhelming bipartisan support. Now we have a solution to ensure that they have the funding commitment needed to truly honor the service of veterans and Guard members.”

Rep. Brad Farrin, R-Norridgewock, said in a statement that the proposal addresses “critical needs for our veterans and also provides the Maine National Guard with a tool to help with recruitment and retention.

“Currently, Maine is the only state in New England that does not offer any type of tuition assistance to our Guard members,” he said. “Now we’re close to finally addressing this once and for all.”