Nevada faces $2.1 million penalty for welfare |

Nevada faces $2.1 million penalty for welfare

Associated Press

Nevada could face a $2.1 million federal penalty for failing to put enough welfare recipients in training or jobs in fiscal year 2003, officials said.

However, Nancy Ford, state Welfare Division administrator, said Tuesday she thinks the state will avoid the penalty because it now exceeds federal requirements.

In the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2003, the state reported 47 percent of its welfare cases were in work or training programs. The federal requirement was 50 percent.

Ford said the state boosted participation to about 53 percent in fiscal 2004, which ended last Sept. 30.

Unemployment last month was 3.7 percent, and Gov. Kenny Guinn said there were 50,000 new jobs created in the last year.

Ford said that helped boost the welfare placement rate. But she said about 35 percent of recipients have mental problems, histories of drug, alcohol or spousal abuse making it harder to find them jobs or training.

Mike Willden, state Department of Human Resources director, said that if the federal government accepts a state corrective action plan and if the state follows through, the fine might not be imposed.

But officials said the threshold for the welfare program could be raised in the future. A bill pending in Congress would require the states to put 70 percent of welfare recipients in jobs or training, Ford said.