Posts Tagged ‘federal funding’

Nevada Wins Grant Authority To Implement Health Insurance Exchange

By Sean Whaley | 3:31 pm September 13th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s health exchange, which will offer residents a one-stop shop to obtain medical insurance beginning Oct. 1, 2013, has received federal approval for grant funding to move forward with its implementation.

Jon Hager, executive director of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, told the board overseeing the effort today that a $50 million grant commitment has been received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The money won’t actually come to the state until claims are submitted, he said.

Jon Hager.

Much of the funding will be used to pay for a portion of a $72 million contract between the state and Xerox State Healthcare to set up and operate the information technology system needed to implement the exchange.

In total, the state has received authority for the full amount sought, $74.8 million, to set up its exchange. Nevada is one of six states to receive a Level 2 grant award for its exchange, Hager said.

Gov. Brian Sandoval has said he is supporting the development of a Nevada-based exchange so it can be tailored to fit the needs of Nevada residents. The alternative would be to have the federal government operate an exchange in the state.

The federal government is paying for more than 99 percent of the cost of implementing and operating the exchange through Dec. 31, 2014. After that, the state will have to find money to fund it.

The board voted in August to assess fees on participants to pay for the cost to operate the exchange. Sandoval has said the exchange should “stand on its own merits through user fees.”


Audio clip:

Jon Hager says Nevada has now received all of its requested authority for federal grant funding to implement the health insurance exchange:

091312Hager :20 Two grant awards.”


Nevada Homeland Security Commission Adopts Drastically Reduced Funding Plan For 2012

By Sean Whaley | 1:11 pm April 26th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s Homeland Security Commission today adopted a drastically reduced plan to continue the fight against potential terrorist attacks, leaving six ongoing programs without funding because of declining federal support.

Led by Commission Chairman and Gov. Brian Sandoval, the panel of law enforcement and other emergency services providers unanimously adopted a plan that will see $4.3 million in total federal funding this year, a 60 percent reduction in funding from 2011 when Nevada received $10.8 million.

The commission approved funding for 10 projects and programs, including its three threat analysis, or “fusion” centers, but another 11 received no funding at all. Six of the 11 were to sustain existing programs, from the Washoe County Silver Shield program to the Carson City Regional Citizen Corps. Silver Shield programs are those designed to protect critical infrastructure, from water systems to government operations.

Hoover Dam, part of Nevada's critical infrastructure.

The projects receiving funding were the result of a collaborative effort by the statewide commission.

The federal funding comes via two programs: the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) and the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Federal support for both programs was reduced significantly this year. The UASI funding totaled $2.66 million, down from $5.7 million last year, and the SHSP funding totaled $1.65 million, down from $5.14 million in 2011.

Even so, Rick Martin, program manager for the state Division of Emergency Management, said the funding priorities developed by commission members and support staff and funded today will keep Nevada safe.

“That’s certainly what we’re concerned with as well, and that was part of the commission’s priorities this year, is to ensure that we virtually get the biggest bang for the buck and that we are safe and that we are sustaining the programs and projects that are most important to this process,” he said.

Martin said efforts will continue to find other sources of money for the projects that received no funding.

“We’re going to work diligently to find additional funding, not only in the homeland security grant program but the other preparedness grant programs as well,” he said. “So we’re going to work really hard to make sure that some of these programs don’t go away.”

The reduction in federal funding for homeland security has been a source of concern for Sandoval and the commission as a whole.

At the March commission meeting, Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said federal officials need to reassess the “threat matrix” used to allocate funding to states and cities for homeland security efforts, particularly given the reduced level of funding being made available. Gillespie said the formula gives a higher priority for funding to cities like Detroit without taking into consideration how cities like Las Vegas and Seattle have changed since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

At today’s meeting the commission also agreed to seek federal approval to use about $569,000 in “de-obligated” homeland security funding allocated to Nevada in prior years to support some of the 11 programs and projects that received no money.

Even those programs that were funded saw much less money than requested.

The fusion centers, created to coordinate tips and information from around the state to evaluate the potential for terrorism, were funded well below the amounts requested. The northern Nevada center received $283,240 after initially requesting $482,772. The southern Nevada center received just over $1 million after requesting $1.46 million.


Audio clips:

Rick Martin, program manager for the state Division of Emergency Management, says the safety of Nevadans and visitors was a top priority in the funding decisions:

042612Martin1 :18 to this process.”

Martin says efforts will be made to find funding for the other programs and projects:

042612Martin2 :17 don’t go away.”

Nevada Out Of Running For New Federal Race To The Top Funds

By Sean Whaley | 3:46 pm April 9th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada is out of the running for next round of federal Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge funds to improve early childhood education.

Nevada submitted its application in November 2011.

The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services announced today that $133 million from the 2012 Race to the Top fund will be available for continued investments in state-level, comprehensive early education reform.

The agencies have invited the next five applicants from the Fiscal Year 2011 slate – Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin – to apply for a share of the funds.

“The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge has demonstrated the dedication among states and early education and child development experts to raise the bar on early learning,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Continuing to support states with 2012 funding will help build on the momentum from the 2011 competition, and engage more states in furthering their critical work to transition effective early learning programs into systems of excellence.”

In 2011, 35 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico applied to Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, creating plans that increase access to high-quality programs for children from low-income families, and provide more children from birth to age 5 with a strong foundation needed to succeed in school and beyond. In December 2011, nine states were awarded grants: California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington.

Eligibility for 2012 Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge funding was based on the strength of applications among states that participated but did not receive awards in the 2011 competition. New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, Illinois and Wisconsin each earned approximately 75 percent or more of total points possible on a 300-point scale in the 2011 competition. The five states will each be eligible to apply for up to 50 percent of last year’s potential award amount.

Following the 2011 competition, the U.S. Department of Education conducted a thorough review of applicant and reviewer feedback, as well as reviewers’ scores and comments. The review found minor scoring inconsistencies for seven states: Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, and Wisconsin.

These discrepancies did not have an effect on the 2011 competition. Nonetheless, the department consulted with the original peer reviewer in each case, and as a result, scores changed slightly for five states: Hawaii was 135.2 and has been revised to 125.2; Kentucky was 208.4 and has been revised to 207.2; Massachusetts was 267 and has been revised to 257; New Mexico was 236 and has been revised to 236.2; and Wisconsin was 234 and has been revised to 224. The overall score did not change for Nevada or New York.

Nevada ranked 29th among those submitting applications.

Nevada also missed out on race to the top funding for its public education system in 2010.

Gov. Sandoval Calls For Reassessment Of Homeland Security Funding Priorities

By Sean Whaley | 5:23 pm November 2nd, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval today called for a reassessment of Nevada’s homeland security priorities given the news that federal funding for the ongoing fight against terrorism could be as much as 47 percent less in the 2012 federal fiscal year compared to last year.

Sandoval, who serves as the chairman of the Homeland Security Commission, noted that the panel’s priorities were last established in October 2010, before he was elected governor, and before many members of the current panel had been appointed to serve.

“It would helpful to me for us to go through that exercise again with the permission of the other members of the commission,” Sandoval said. “And also to have somewhat, of what I guess for lack of a better term is, a ‘state of homeland security’ both within Nevada and federally and where we may be, where we need to be, where we’re deficient.

A review of priorities would give the commission and Chris Smith, the new chief of the Nevada Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, an opportunity to have, “a reset for all of us to ensure that we’re all on the same page,” he said.

The commission agreed and set a special meeting for Jan. 7 in Las Vegas that will include a tour of the Southern Nevada Counter Terrorism Center, also known as a fusion center.

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said the federal funding cuts being contemplated to states and local governments for homeland security would be on top of cuts this past 2011 fiscal year from 2010. The 2012 federal fiscal year began Oct. 1.

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie.

“If you take all of the state homeland security money that comes to the local programs to include UASI (Urban Area Security Initiative) dollars, at the federal level right now at the Senate you are looking at close to a 47 percent reduction coming to state and local than that which you saw in 2011,” he said.

“So it’s even more important that we’re very specific and judicious with this money that is coming forth to the states because that funding stream is becoming significantly smaller than that which we’ve been used to in the past,” Gillespie said.

The commission also has to be flexible when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issues guidelines on where the spending priorities should be, he said. Submitting grants that don’t focus on those priorities won’t get funded, Gillespie said.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Nevada was eligible for $21 million in grants in 2010, but only $14.5 million in 2011.

Funding could have been even lower but members of the House of Representatives, including Reps. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and Joe Heck, R-Nev., rejected a proposal to make UASI funding available only to the nation’s 10 largest cities, which would have excluded Las Vegas.

Washoe County Sheriff Michael Haley said the reassessment should also evaluate which projects are achievable given current funding levels, and how close Nevada is to accomplishing those objectives.

The Homeland Security Commission has seen major changes since Sandoval took over as chairman of the panel. Several long-time members have left and new members are learning about the operation of the commission.

There are 14 voting members of the commission, all appointed by Sandoval. There are also non-voting members, including two representatives of the Legislature. There was some concern expressed at the August meeting that lawmaker representatives were not attending the meetings.

Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, the new Senate representative and a candidate for the new Congressional 4 seat, attended his first meeting. But Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, the new representative replacing Speaker John Oceguera, did not attend the meeting.


Audio clips

Gov. Brian Sandoval says the state’s homeland security priorities need to be revisited:

110211Sandoval1 :21 where we’re deficient.”

Sandoval says the members of the Homeland Security Commission need to make sure they are in agreement on those priorities:

110211Sandoval2 :10 the same page.”

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie says federal homeland security funding could face major cutbacks in 2012:

110211Gillespie1 :21 saw in 2011.”

Gillespie says Nevada has to be even more judicious in how it spends its limited federal homeland security funding:

110211Gillespie2 :18 in the past.”


Governor Gibbons Evaluating Strings Tied to Federal Support Before Accepting Funding

By Sean Whaley | 1:56 pm August 11th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Gov. Jim Gibbons said today he wants to see what strings are attached to the $82 million approved by Congress this week to hire teachers in Nevada before agreeing to accept the funds.

“What we want to do is study the requirements for taking that money,” he said. “I’m prepared to say ‘thank you’. I’m prepared to say ‘thank-you but no thank-you’.”

The funding would save 1,400 teaching jobs in Nevada this year.

But Gibbons said such appropriations typically require a “maintenance of effort” that means the state has to continue to support programs after the federal funding goes away. The funding for the teachers does include a maintenance of effort requirement.

Gibbons said the state may not be able to afford to comply with the maintenance of effort requirements, hence the review.

Gibbons said he would also prefer more flexibility with the funding. Some Nevada school districts might need a computer system or textbooks rather than staff, he said.

The law appropriating the funds is still being reviewed and once the state’s obligations are clear, Gibbons said he will make a decision on whether to accept the funding.

State budget Director Andrew Clinger said another issue is that the funding is for only one year.

“So what do you do with those teachers you hire for this school year,” he said. “Come a year from now you’ve got to lay them all off because you don’t have the funding to continue the positions?”

But Gibbons acknowledged that any funding that would keep 1,400 Nevadans working, even if only for one year, has to be given serious consideration.

Nevada leads the nation in unemployment with a rate of 14.2 percent in June.

While Gibbons has yet to commit to funding, the Nevada State Education Association welcomed the action by Congress and the President.

“We commend and thank our friends in Congress who stood firm on this issue which provides federal dollars to Nevada in order to save jobs,” said NSEA President Lynn Warne. “We look now to state legislative leaders to work in the same proactive manner in creating funding sources to strengthen K-12 public education in Nevada.”

Gibbons said he is also evaluating the nearly $80 million in Medicaid funding Nevada will receive from the legislation. The money was included in the budget approved by the Legislature for this year.


Audio clips:

Gov. Gibbons says the federal funding may require a commitment the state can’t afford:

081110Gibbons1 :31 the matching dollars.”

Gibbons said he is prepared to accept or reject the funding after his review:

081110Gibbons2 :05 but no thank-you.”