All three welfare indicators rise in May

The number of welfare, food stamps and Medicaid recipients all increased in the most recent monthly report filed by Nevada's Welfare Division.

Temporary aid to needy families went up three-quarters of a percent in May to 29,132.

That is 17 percent lower than the peak of 35,123 welfare recipients in May 2002 -- a fact which has been the focus of Assembly Republicans arguing Nevada doesn't need $860 million in new tax revenues over the two-year budget to balance the state's budget.

They say falling caseloads are an indication the aid, food stamps and Medicaid should all be reprojected downward, which would significantly reduce the need for higher taxes.

Gov. Kenny Guinn agreed the overall decrease in aid is an encouraging sign.

"However, aid is only one small part of the spectrum," he said. "Food stamp caseloads are at an all-time high and Medicaid caseloads continue to grow."

Welfare administrator Nancy Ford said even though down from the peak a year ago, the number is still 43 percent higher than it was before September 11.

She said the same is true of food stamp and Medicaid caseloads. There were 109,335 on food stamps in April 2003. The number of recipients went up dramatically after September 11 and has continued to rise -- increasing in 10 of the past 12 months. Food stamp caseloads are 45 percent higher than they were Sept. 11, 2001.

And Medicaid recipients now total 169,844 -- 37 percent higher than before September 11. There again, Ford said the trend has been pretty steadily upward with increases in nine of the past 12 months.

Guinn said with the economy still weak and in danger from such things as the SARS epidemic and continued terrorism threats, he will remain cautious about lowering those caseload projections.


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