Nevada ranks last in the nation for federal funds per capita

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Nevada ranks last in the amount of money it received per person last year from the federal government, a census report released Wednesday shows.

Although the Silver State ranked 38th among states in the total amount it received from the federal government in the 2002 fiscal year, it fell to last when calculated on a per-person basis. In total, Congress sent $10.7 billion to Nevada, compared with $206 billion sent to California, the largest recipient.

"It's terrible that Nevada ranks very last in federal funding across the board," said Tessa Hafen, a spokeswoman for Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. "The state is one of the fastest growing in the nation, and we must have additional resources to keep up with demand."

The largest amount of money Nevada received was for health programs, including Medicaid. Federal funds also went to Social Security and disability payments, federal government salaries and benefits, government contracts with universities and businesses, as well as education, housing and transportation programs.

"It's disappointing," said Clark County Manager Thom Reilly. "It's an obvious area of concern that we continue to be an exporter state in terms of taxes."

Nevada historically has ranked at or near the bottom of the list because of a relatively small population of low-income residents, said Mike Pieper, a lobbyist for Gov. Kenny Guinn.

"It's sort of a good news-bad news situation," Pieper said. "The good news is that Nevada does not have a high rate of poverty."

Nevada officials also said the state's population boom has made it difficult for the U.S. Census Bureau to keep accurate totals of low-income residents. The latest census data shows Nevada's population has grown 3.6 percent from 2001 to 2002 to just more than 2.1 million residents.

"It's kind of like trying to fit a 13-year-old boy into last year's sneakers," said Michael O'Donovan, spokesman for Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

Also this week, it was reported that Nevada will receive the least amount of funds of any state from the $20 billion aid program included in tax cut legislation signed by President Bush. The program was designed to offer states help with Medicaid costs.


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