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Debt deal will impact county, state
by Joshua H. Silavent
Aug 07, 2011 | 1107 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print

CARSON CITY — The debt deal struck between Democrats and Republicans in Washington last week to avoid a default includes an initial $917 billion in spending cuts to be made over the next 10 years.

And though it is unclear where exactly these cuts will be applied, it is certain that Nevada will feel the effects.

In the short-term, social services programs could be eliminated. But it is health care coverage for children and seniors that could be at risk in the future.

“Long-term, I think Medicaid cuts are what we have to be most concerned about,” said state Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks.

The state might also have federal grants for police and the courts significantly scaled back, Smith said.

Moreover, with a reduction in federal contracting dollars, the state will likely have to reduce its partnerships with private industry.

“The private sector is definitely impacted,” Smith said.

Smith acknowledges that it is “a little too soon to tell” how the cuts will truly hit Nevada, but she expects the state’s budget to feel the pain nonetheless.

At the county level, officials are concerned about what the federal spending cuts will mean for social services programs.

“Reductions in federal funding to Washoe County for our social services could have an adverse impact upon our ability to provide safety-net services to the most vulnerable of our county’s population,” County Manager Katy Simon wrote in an email.

Social services block grants, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, child welfare, adoption assistance and nutrition programs are expected to be impacted, according to Washoe County Social Services Director Kevin Schiller.

“I believe our ability to claim Federal IV-E reimbursement and Medicaid Targeted Case Management could be at risk for reduction in allowable activities and claims,” Schiller wrote in an email.

These prospects place the future of certain social services programs in jeopardy.

“Given that the county has had to reduce spending and staffing so drastically in response to decreased local (tax) revenues,” Simon wrote, “we are deeply concerned that further reductions as the result of less federal funding may further erode our ability to provide services to children and families at risk in our community.”
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