Assembly panel backs higher welfare payments |

Assembly panel backs higher welfare payments

(AP) – Assembly members of a joint budget subcommittee voted along party lines Thursday to raise welfare payments, which haven’t gone up since 1993, by 15 percent.

Under the plan advanced by Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, the maximum payment of $348 a month for a family of three would go up by $52.

The plan would cost $3.2 million over the coming two fiscal years, and the money would come from an existing reserve fund that now holds about $27 million, Leslie said.

The vote was 4-2, with Assembly Democrats on the subcommittee voting for the plan and Republicans opposing it. Senators on the joint budget panel didn’t vote on the proposal, so it now becomes a budget difference that the two houses will have to sort out before adjournment June 4.

“I think a 15 percent increase since 1993 is modest. We can afford it,” Leslie said after the meeting. “We have the money sitting in reserve. This is overdue. It’s time we gave our poorest families a raise.”

Leslie also said welfare caseloads are dropping, and under welfare law changes people who qualify for assistance can’t get it indefinitely.