The Interim Finance Committee on Thursday approved acceptance of up to $10.7 million in federal money largely to try to eliminate the huge backlog in people filing for unemployment.
Heather Korbulic, the
newly-appointed director of the Department of Employment Training and
Rehabilitation, told lawmakers that, before the virus struck, Nevada’s
unemployment division was receiving 10,000 new claims for benefits per month.
“We’re now receiving 10,000 a
day,” she said, adding that the current system runs through the state telephone
To try to fix the problem,
she said they are putting together a contract to move the entire filing system
to a cloud-based system because the state phone system is unable to handle the
Kimberly Gaa of the
Employment Security Division said they are also working to get the Pandemic
Unemployment Assistance program that will enable the independent contractors,
gig workers and others currently unable to get benefits to do so. She said that
program is designed to help those people who are “not otherwise eligible.”
Since many of those people
are currently applying but can’t, yet, get benefits Sen. Pete Goicoechea,
R-Eureka, said it would make sense to tell those people to hold off until May
15 when the PUA program will hopefully go live.
Korbulic said now that the
contracts have been executed, the department is working to put together some
outreach to help people navigate the system
Gaa said they are also
working on other changes to processes at the division to speed up and ease the
process of applying for and receiving benefits.
In addition, the legislative
panel approved three work programs, each worth $416,000, to provide temporary
medical staff to the state prison system to help keep the virus out of Nevada’s
prisons and conservation camps.
Department of Corrections
Director Charles Daniels said the money will support up to 28 registered nurses
to staff entry points at each institution focused exclusively on examining and
testing everyone who enters any prison institution. He said that includes
temperature testing for a fever, runny noses, sore throats and other signs of
respiratory distress. Prison officials said that, while they now have 11 staff
who have tested positive for the coronoavirus but no inmates.
They said that is in large
part because the department reacted early in February to begin social
distancing, masks for staff and others coming in and out of any of the
But Assemblywoman Dr. Robin
Titus, R-Wellington, suggested that they really don’t need RN’s for that duty,
that Licensed Practical Nurses and other lower level medical professionals
could handle the examinations. Prison medical officials said in the current
market, RN’s are easier to find and hire than LPN’s.
The money will come from the
Inmate Welfare Account, Inmate Offenders Store and Prison Store funds. But
lawmakers were told they fully expect to get reimbursed for “every penny” of that
and restore it to the inmate funds within the system.