Elko Daily Free Press on welfare surplus:
News from Carson City indicates there is more money in the welfare kitty than our dedicated public servants have been able to squander. Which means, of course, that welfare reform has worked! We have managed to make welfare less attractive than employment and welfare ''clients'' have gone out and gotten jobs! Hallelujah! We're going to get a tax cut!
First, though, we have the members of the Nevada Welfare Board to deal with. Reports from their meeting in Carson City earlier this week indicated they have failed to grasp the big picture that welfare is a bad thing that we are working to eliminate. The board has decided that since there is a $10 million surplus in the welfare budget, the people getting welfare handouts ought to be given a raise.
OK. One more time, and we'll type slowly so the dolts on the welfare board can follow along: Welfare damages those ensnared in its grasp. It angers the taxpayers who have to pay for it. That is why we are phasing it out. As the phase-out progresses, there is going to be money left over in the welfare budget. That's a good thing. Give that money back to the people it was taken from. Do not use it to make welfare more attractive. That would draw more people seeking handouts, damaging their lives and creating a deficit in the welfare budget. And that would force the taxpayers to give up more of their earnings to take care of that deficit.
Las Vegas Review-Journal on police union health insurance:
Is the Las Vegas police union's health insurance plan in dire financial straits?
After learning the reserve fund of the taxpayer-financed plan had dwindled - from $3 million to as little as $100,000 - an audit was requested last spring by Lois Willis, comptroller of the police department's office of management and budget. But police union president Andy Anderson replied the $17 million plan received a ''clean bill of health'' when last audited five years ago, and there isn't going to be any new audit.
This despite Mr. Anderson's acknowledgment to a Review-Journal reporter Friday that the health plan's reserve fund has indeed been depleted by $2.9 million over the past year - which may explain why the union is now attempting to shore things up with such emergency measures as increasing co-payments and deductibles.
We even know the probable cause of the hemorrhage. In a July 8 letter from police comptroller Willis to City Manager Virginia Valentine, Willis attributed the financial difficulties to the police union's practice of subsidizing the health insurance payments of more than 500 police retirees ... though neither the city of Las Vegas nor Clark County provides such a subsidy to any other retirees.
Mr. Anderson insists taxpayers won't be asked to cover any shortfall in the union's health fund. But if the police union has a major source of revenue other than taxpayers, that would be worthy of separate inquiry in itself.
Reno Gazette-Journal on state welfare:
Surpluses are wonderful additions to a budget. They give you that safe, secure feeling that if calamity rains down, your umbrella is right within reach. So in that sense, it is wonderful that the state of Nevada is building a fine surplus in federal welfare funds (the surplus exists because the number of recipients has dropped dramatically since the emphasis shifted to getting them into jobs). It is good, too, that Nevada is putting this money aside for that inevitable day when the economy goes down and the welfare rolls go up.
But at the same time, the surplus is expected to reach nearly $18 million by June and $25 million by mid-2002. It has grown to this much even with the state commendably raising child-care payments from $3.3 million to $18.7 million; welfare-to-work spending from $0 to $1.1 million; and contracts with various non-profits from $0 to nearly $2 million. The $25 million still remaining is almost as much as Nevada's current annual welfare grants ($27.6 million). That raises the question: How many umbrellas does a program need? The answer: probably fewer than it currently has.
This lends support to the suggestion that Nevada raise the current grant, which is a miserly $348 per month for a family of three. That amount was low when it was authorized in 1991, and it is even lower now. It is very, very tough to live on $348 a month. Marci Wehry of the Nevada Empowered Women's Project and Jan Gilbert of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada are right: It's time to do better.