Las Vegas Sun

August 19, 2018

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Poor feeling the pain of state budget cuts

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AP Photo/Lisa J. Tolda

Gov. Brian Sandoval, right, is joined by legislative leaders Sen. Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, and Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas to announce a budget agreement Wednesday, June 1, 2011, at the Nevada Legislative Building in Carson City.

CARSON CITY — Democratic and Republican lawmakers were reluctant to admit they had made hard cuts during the 2011 Legislature, when they struck a compromise budget deal that included the extension of some tax increases set to expire in June.

But now, as that budget takes effect, poor families are finding already sparse state services have been trimmed further. The effect of lawmakers’ votes on cuts is just beginning to come into focus.

“We still do not understand all of the cuts heading our way,” said Karen Taycher, executive director of the advocacy group Nevada Parents Encouraging Parents. Her group receives calls from parents every day who are seeing services cut for children with disabilities or learning difficulties, or are being told they’re ineligible for services because they earn too much money under new cost-saving guidelines.

Shared sacrifice has been a buzz phrase during the recession. Here are a few ways the poor are sacrificing this summer because of state budget cuts:

      Less money to keep children with familes

      Monthly assistance to poor family members, such as grandparents, caring for children who would otherwise be in foster care will by cut by 25 percent starting Sept. 1.

      For the 485 children in the Kinship Care program, state funding will drop to about $400 a month, $65 a month less for their food, care and school supplies.

      Less money for help with power bills

      A state program to help the poor pay their power bills will be greatly reduced.

      The state expects 11,000 people to be turned away this year because of rising demand — from 21,900 participants in fiscal year 2009 to 32,600 during the 12 months ended June 30 — and reduced funding.

      In addition, average annual assistance was cut from $860 to $500 on July 1.

      The Legislature saw this coming. Federal funding for this program was drastically cut, and state lawmakers didn’t find money to fill the gap.

      No child care assistance for parents in college

      Mothers and fathers returning to college will no longer be eligible for child care assistance from the state.

      “We don’t have enough money to go around,” welfare division staff specialist Miki Allard said. “We have to keep the money for people who need to feed their families, not go to school right now.”

      The elimination of the assistance affected 314 children and 185 families statewide.

      The state will still provide child care assistance to mothers completing their high school education.

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