Posts Tagged ‘Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki’

Obama Visits Reno, Urges Congress To Expand Mortgage Refinancing Program

By Sean Whaley | 3:36 pm May 11th, 2012

RENO – President Barack Obama made a brief stopover here today, visiting with a couple who refinanced their home through a White House initiative helping underwater homeowners who have government-backed loans.

After meeting with Paul and Valerie Keller, Obama urged Congress to expand the Home Affordable Refinancing Program (HARP) to other mortgages as well.

President Obama greets the crowd in Reno today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

The Kellers were able to save $240 a month by refinancing using the program, he said.

“Now, Val says that they’ve been talking to some of their neighbors  – maybe some of you are here today – and you’re saying, well, that sounds like a pretty good idea. And a lot of folks across the country recognize this is a smart thing to do not only for homeowners but for our economy, because if Paul and Val have an extra $240, $250 a month, then they might spend it on the local business.

“And that means more money in the economy, and businesses do better, and slowly home prices start rising again,” Obama said. “So it makes sense for all of us.

“There’s absolutely no reason why they can’t make this happen right now,” Obama said to a small crowd gathered on Ridgecrest Drive in north Reno. “If they started now, in a couple of weeks, in a month, they could make every homeowner in America who is underwater right now eligible to be able to refinance their homes – if they’re making their payments, if they’re responsible, if they’re doing the right thing.  And think about all those families saving $3,000 on average a year – that’s a huge boost to our economy.”

Obama said that since the announcement, refinancing applications have gone up by 50 percent nationwide and 230 percent in Nevada.

“That’s the good news,” he said. “People are taking advantage of this.”

Obama’s Nevada visit comes as he campaigns for a second term in the White House. He won Nevada in 2008, but with the highest unemployment rate and one of the highest home foreclosure rates in the nation, the state is considered to be a toss up.

His visit prompted a response from the Mitt Romney campaign by Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., and Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki.

In a conference call, Amodei and Krolicki said they do not want the president’s focus on the success of the Kellers to overshadow what they called his overall failing policies.

“How many people fit that profile?” Amodei asked about the Kellers. “When you look at the success of those policies, we are still in critical condition in relation to housing in Nevada.”

“I appreciate the fact that the president is coming to town and sitting in the living room with the Kellers, but it is not going to solve our problems,” Krolicki said. “We need a president that is encouraging job growth. The easiest cure for a foreclosure is a job.”

Nevada State Democratic Party Chair Roberta Lange released a statement praising Obama’s proposal: “The president’s mortgage refinancing plan would make a real difference to families nationwide and here in Nevada. This key piece of the president’s ‘To-Do List’ could help families save up to $3,000 a year, reducing foreclosures, boosting the economy, and speeding the recovery of the housing market.

“In contrast, Mitt Romney told Nevada families facing foreclosure they need to ‘hit the bottom’ and called for rolling back laws to protect families against the mortgage abuses that helped create the financial crisis,” she said.

But at least one news report has questioned whether the Kellers are the responsible homeowners as described by Obama. CNBC reported that the Kellers did a “cash out” refinancing in 2007 that helped put them in their current predicament.

It was Obama’s first visit to Reno since April 2011, but he has also visited Southern Nevada twice this year and First Lady Michelle Obama was in Las Vegas at a fundraiser last week.

He arrived in Reno after attending a fundraiser in California.

President Obama with Paul and Valerie Keller in Reno today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Obama hinted at the difficulties facing many Nevadans as he began his remarks, noting that “it is going to take a long time for the economy to fully recover. More time than any of us would like. But there are plenty of steps we can take to speed up the recovery right now.”

In addition to the refinancing program, he identified four other “common-sense policies” on Congress’s “To-Do” list that can help now in the economic recovery: end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, give small business owners tax breaks for hiring more workers and paying higher wages, extend tax credits for clean energy companies and create a Veterans Jobs Corps so that veterans can get work as police and firefighters.

Americans for Prosperity – Nevada (AFP-NV) today questioned Obama’s call that Congress extend certain clean energy tax credits, arguing they have a bad track record of creating jobs or promoting green energy technology.

“Hard working Nevada taxpayers want to know why the president continues to ignore the facts and waste their money on expensive, unproven ‘green energy’ boondoggles like Solyndra,” said Adam Stryker, state director of AFP-NV. “It’s time for the president to stop bowing to blind ideology and support real job creation.”

In his concluding remarks, Obama said: “I need all of you, and everybody who is watching, to push Congress on their “To-Do” list,” he said. “Nag them until they actually get it done. We need to keep moving this country forward. Send them an email. Tweet them. Write them a letter if you’re old-fashioned like me. But communicate to them that this will make a difference. It’s one small step that will help us create the kind of economy that all Americans deserve.”

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Audio clips:

President Obama says the refinancing program is good for the economy:

051112Obama1 :33 all of us.”

Obama says people are taking advantage of the program:

051112Obama2 :13 the good news.”

Obama says people need to tell Congress to get moving on the “To-Do” list;

051112Obama3 :35 all Americans deserve.”

 

 

 

Southern Nevada Workforce Board Cuts Staff, Spending After Audit Shows High Administrative Costs

By Sean Whaley | 12:54 pm May 1st, 2012

CARSON CITYAn audit of the state’s two local workforce investment boards has found the Southern Nevada agency spent nearly twice as much on administration and monitoring of its programs than its northern counterpart.

If the southern board cut its local expenses to mirror those of the northern Nevada board, another $1.9 million would have been available to job seekers in fiscal year 2011, the review by the state Division of Internal Audits found. The audit showed the Southern Nevada board, called Workforce Connections, spent 21 percent on administration and monitoring compared to only 11.3 percent in the north.

The audit also noted that the southern board’s budget plans for fiscal year 2012 indicated it intends to use nearly 30 percent of available federal funding on administration, monitoring and other program services.

The U.S. Department of Labor provided about $29.5 million in fiscal year 2011 to Nevada for the programs that supported over 26,000 participants. The programs are intended to help improve the employability of participants.

The audit recommended that the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) and the State Workforce Investment Board, which oversee the program, limit the amount of money the local boards could spend on such expenses.

The audit was reviewed today by the Executive Branch Audit Committee, made up of the six constitutional officers, including Gov. Brian Sandoval, and one public member.

At the meeting, Ardell Galbreth, interim executive director of Workforce Connections, told the committee that major changes have been implemented to reduce administrative and other costs. He took the position on April 5.

Galbreth told the panel that the 2012 budget has been revised to ensure that no more than 20 percent of the funding will go to program and administrative costs. The staff of 72 at the board is also being reduced to 34 by the end of the year if not before, he said. The six-figure salaries provided to five of eight staff have been cut, Galbreth said.

In addition to the savings from the budget cuts, the agency expects another $1.7 million will be added to provide direct employment assistance to those in need, he said.

“I have outlined a budget that has been approved by the southern board, Workforce Connections, where there would be no more than 10 percent for program cost and 10 percent for administrative cost,” Galbreth said. “This past program year we served just over 5,000 clients, 5,149; we’re anticipating that approximately 9,000; almost doubling the amount of clients to be served.

“All of the findings that were discussed or indicated in the report, they either have been addressed or are in the process of being addressed,” he said.

A document provided to the Nevada News Bureau shows that the northern Nevada board, Nevadaworks, employs 11 people at a cost of $823,000 in salary and benefits this year. Chief Executive Officer Tom Fitzgerald is making six figures with salary and benefits totaling $165,000. A second employee is making $102,466 with benefits.

The document showed 50 employees at Workforce Connections with a total salary of $3.2 million. It does not specify if benefits are included in the total.

Former Executive Director John Ball had an annual salary of $168,000. Seven other employees had salaries of $105,000. The document does not show revised salaries or eliminated positions.

The audit also noted that the state is considering seeking a waiver from the Department of Labor to allow for the creation of a single state board to control the funding rather than have the two local boards continue to operate.

Galbreth said local elected officials who serve on the board, as well as community members, are interested in maintaining local control of the program.

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki questioned why it took the audit to prompt the action by Workforce Connections to get its spending under control.

“It should be somewhat startling that it took this process to identify those surplus expenditures; really at a premium to other similar operations not only in the state but in the region,” he said. “I appreciate people wanting local control, usually my philosophical approach is ‘closer is better,’ but I think there is a very compelling story as to why a single state system makes some sense.”

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Audio clips:

Ardell Galbreth of Workforce Connections says positions have been cut and administrative spending reduced:

050112Galbreth1 :26 for administrative cost.”

Galbreth says the spending reductions will mean more money for job seekers:

050112Galbreth2 :13 to be served.”

Galbreth says all the issues raised in the audit are being addressed:

050112Galbreth3 :08 of being addressed”

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki questions why it took the audit to focus on spending by the board:

050112Krolicki :27 makes some sense.”