Posts Tagged ‘military’

Nevada Budget Likely To See Fewer Impacts From “Fiscal Cliff”

By Sean Whaley | 11:57 am November 20th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The impacts of the so-called “fiscal cliff” on Nevada’s state budget would likely be less significant than for many other states because of our lower dependence on federal spending, according to an analysis by the Pew Center on the States.

The impact on state tax revenues do not apply because Nevada does not have a personal or corporate income tax, according to the report The Impact of the Fiscal Cliff on the States. The report examines the potential effects on each of the states.

Analysis includes Nevada-specific numbers

On the federal spending cut side of the equation, Nevada’s share of federal grants subject to sequester, looked at as a percentage of state revenue, is slightly higher at 6.7 percent than the national average of 6.6 percent, and so could mean financial impacts.

But Nevada ranks well below the national average for federal spending on procurement, salaries and wages as a percentage of the state’s gross domestic product at 3 percent compared to the national average of 5.3 percent.

Nevada is also below the federal average for federal defense spending on procurement, salaries and wages as a percentage of the state GDP at 1.8 percent compared to the national average of 3.5 percent.

Federal non-defense spending on procurement, salaries and wages as a percentage of state GDP is 1.2 percent in Nevada compared to 1.8 percent nationally.

These numbers cited in the Pew report are all based on 2010 information.

And federal non-defense workforce as a percentage of total employment in the state is 0.9 percent in Nevada compared to 1 percent nationally, based on 2012 data.

But the Pew analysis notes: “The general economic slowdown that could result if the full fiscal cliff were allowed to take effect would likely overwhelm any of the separate impacts.”

Nevada officials are looking at the issue as one of several budget variables

The report, released Nov. 15, comes as Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is finalizing his 2013-15 state spending plan, which will take effect on July 1, 2013.

The impact of the federal fiscal cliff is just one more variable that could affect Nevada’s general fund budget. Another is expanding Medicaid to a new group of eligible state residents. Sandoval has not yet announced his decision on whether to support the expansion, which would be paid for nearly entirely with federal funds in the first few years.

“The Budget Division is currently evaluating the impacts of sequestration on federal funding to the state of Nevada,” said Director Jeff Mohlenkamp in a statement. “Specifically, we are researching reductions that would have direct impact on services to citizens. Some federal reductions may eliminate the resources to provide services but not eliminate requirements to maintain service levels. The potential for this type of unfunded mandate is of particular interest to the Budget Division as we prepare the budget for FY 2013 – 2015.

“There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding other elements of the ‘fiscal cliff,’ ” he added. “ We understand the possible implications on the larger economy. At this point, we cannot speculate further as most of the critical decisions have not been made.”

The Pew study shows some states more dependent on federal spending

The Pew report on the fiscal cliff says that federal grants to the states constitute about one-third of total state revenues, and federal spending affects states’ economic activity and thus their amount of tax revenues.

Roughly 18 percent of federal grant dollars flowing to the states would be subject to the fiscal year 2013 across-the-board cuts under the sequester, according to the Federal Funds Information for States, including funding for education programs, nutrition for low-income women and children, public housing, and other programs.

Because states differ in the type and amount of federal grants they receive, their exposure to the grant cuts would vary. In all, the federal grants subject to sequester make up more than 10 percent of South Dakota’s revenue, compared with less than 5 percent of Delaware’s revenue.

Federal spending on defense accounts for more than 3.5 percent of the total gross domestic product (GDP) of the states, but there is wide variation across the states. Federal defense spending makes up almost 15 percent of Hawaii’s GDP, compared with just 1 percent of state GDP in Oregon.

The fiscal cliff, a series of expiring federal tax provisions and scheduled spending cuts, are set to take effect in January unless Congress reaches agreement on a deficit-reduction plan.

Scheduled tax changes account for roughly four-fifths – or $393 billion – of the total amount of the fiscal cliff. The scheduled spending cuts account for $98 billion – or about one-fifth – of the federal budget impact of the fiscal cliff. Over half of this amount is due to sequestration required under the Budget Control Act of 2011.

“To understand the full cost and benefits of proposals to address the fiscal cliff, policy makers need to know how federal and state policies are linked,” said Pew Project Director Anne Stauffer. “The implications for states should be part of the discussion so that problems are not simply shifted from one level of government to another.”

If the full force of the fiscal cliff is realized, the federal deficit would be reduced by $491 billion, the Pew Center analysis says. However, the Congressional Budget Office has projected that the entirety of the fiscal cliff would be a major driver of a general economic slowdown in 2013. Such an outcome would likely negate the more specific, separate impacts described in the analysis.

“Given the uncertainty about whether any or all of the policies in the fiscal cliff will be addressed temporarily or permanently, it is important to understand that the effects of the different components will vary across states,” Stauffer said.


Concerns Cited Over Big Decline In Military Absentee Ballot Requests In Key States, Including Nevada

By Sean Whaley | 12:17 pm October 2nd, 2012

CARSON CITY – A national organization is reporting an alarmingly low number of absentee ballots being requested by members of the military in battleground states around the country – including a 55 percent decline in Nevada – ahead of the Nov. 6 general election.

“The number of absentee ballots being requested is shockingly low,” said Eric Eversole, founder and executive director of the Military Voter Protection Project (MVPP). “While we knew the number of absentee ballots requests would increase as we got closer to the election – and they have – the number being requested is still way too low and indicates that many military members will have their voices silenced on Election Day.”

The group reports a 46 percent decline in absentee ballot requests in Florida this year compared to the 2008 presidential election, a 59 percent decline in North Carolina, and 70 percent declines in Virginia and Ohio.

The Nevada Secretary of State’s Office reports the number of ballots requested by military personnel both within the U.S. and overseas totals 2,210 so far in this election year, a 55 percent reduction over the 4,919 requested in 2008. The number is up from the 1,533 absentee ballots requested in the 2010 mid-term election in Nevada.

The 2,210 requests is also an increase from the 1,750 absentee ballots cited as being requested in Nevada in a report issued by the MVPP on Aug. 27.

UOCAVA numbers in Nevada for 2008, 2010, and 2012 through the MOVE Act deadline:

2008 2010 2012
Military (Domestic/Overseas) 4,919 1,533 2,210
Overseas Citizens 2,562 578 1,510
Other 2 0
Total 7,483 2,140 3,720

The 2012 requests reported by the Secretary of State’s Office are through the 45-day window when ballots had to be mailed. More requests can and should be received by counties.

Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller said he has been told that it takes a maximum of seven days for an absentee ballot to be delivered to the most remote forward operating base in Afghanistan. And in the case of Nevada, military personnel can vote via email, he said.

“It is the highest priority of the Department of Defense and their military system to get those ballots to the troops,” Miller said. “They process those ballots very quickly.

“I’m confident that we’re going to see a relatively high number of requests coming from our military,” he said. “The outreach seems to be working. We still have a lot of time for them to request their ballots. And I think that’s the critical point here; is that although the numbers are a little bit low right now, there’s still several weeks for the military to request their ballots and I’m confident that they are going to do so.”

One reason for the drop in the number of requests is that the troops serving in Iraq have returned home, and the number of troops serving in Afghanistan have been on the decline, Miller said.

“I’m confident at the end of the day that we’re going to see a high turnout of our military men and women overseas casting ballots,” he said. “The fact remains we simply have fewer military overseas because in 2008 we were fighting active wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and we don’t have that high of numbers of personnel overseas right now.”

Miller’s office reported on Sept. 24 that all Nevada military ballots and ballots to Nevadans covered by the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) were in the mail 45 days in advance of the election as required by the law.

All 17 county clerks and registrars of voters confirmed that all valid requests were transmitted pursuant to applicable state and federal laws. Reports based on rumors that the ballots would not be delivered on time were inaccurate, according to the Nevada Secretary of State’s office.

“The timely mailing of these ballots is critical,” Miller said in announcing last month that the counties met the deadline. “Just more than a week ago I was honored to visit our troops in the Middle East, including the officers and enlisted personnel who manage and oversee the elections process among the troops. We assured them that they’d have the ballots on time so that their votes would count. As the people who are on the front lines of protecting democracy, we owe them that.”

In July of this year, Nevada was named one of just fifteen “all-star states” by the MVPP. The MVPP cited Miller’s proactive approach to military and absentee voting issues including his leadership in Nevada’s passage of the Uniform Military and Overseas Voting Act, and the use of internet technology to allow members of the military to determine whether their ballot has been received and counted.”

Nevada had an issue complying with the MOVE Act in 2010 in Elko County due to the failure of a private vendor to deliver printed ballots on time. But the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) praised Nevada elections officials for working “quickly and cooperatively” to address the delay.

In an Oct. 1 news release, Eversole said the Pentagon and its Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) failed to comply with a key provision of the MOVE Act to provide greater voter assistance on military installations. In particular, FVAP failed to create voter registration offices that would provide voting assistance to every military member when they checked into a new duty station.

“Notwithstanding the data, we have not given up and will keep fighting for our military voters,” Eversole said. “The registration deadlines are quickly approaching, but there is still time to fix this mess. We are asking every active duty military member or spouse to visit where they can quickly register and request an absentee ballot. They can quickly fill out the form and get their absentee ballots in 7 to 10 days.”


Audio clips:

Secretary of State Ross Miller says he believes Nevada will see a high rate of voter participation by military personnel overseas:

100212Miller11 :28 to do so.”

Miller says there just aren’t as many military personnel overseas as there were in 2008:

100212Miller22 :21 overseas right now.”


Secretary of State Tours Middle East for First-Hand View of Military, Overseas Voting Issues

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 2:17 pm September 11th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller   is traveling in the Middle East with U.S. Department of Defense officials this week to gain first-hand knowledge of military and overseas voting issues.

“These are the women and men who are fighting to ensure that the interests of the United States and democracy are protected around the world,” Miller said. “We owe them every possible effort to make the elections process accessible and secure for their participation. Secretaries of State have a responsibility to take a lead role in this effort, and I’m honored to be a part of that, and particularly honored to get to meet some of our troops in the field.”

Secretary of State Ross Miller, center, is on a trip to the Middle East this week.

Miller and fellow Secretaries of State first stopped in Kuwait to meet with U.S. Ambassador Matthew Tueller and U.S. Embassy staff, where they held extensive meetings to discuss voter outreach efforts for U.S. citizens living abroad and collaboration to resolve barriers to voting.

Military leadership briefed the secretaries on the U.S. Army Central voting assistance program in the Third Army war room. The program is in place to ensure successful absentee voting during the election year. The secretaries also met with assigned officers at military installations to resolve any outstanding issues. The stop included a tour and an extensive presentation at the U.S. Army Post Office to learn how military ballots are processed and transported.

Following Kuwait, the Secretaries of State toured Al Udeid Air Force Base in Qatar, where they received a briefing regarding the Combined Air Operations Center voting assistance program, met with the Qatar Embassy regarding voter outreach, lunched with constituents, and toured the military postal facilities. The Secretaries of State will travel to several other yet undisclosed locations in the Middle East.

As Nevada’s chief elections officer and president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, Miller is strong advocate of changes to the state’s military and overseas voting laws to ensure all ballots are received on time and counted in elections. Miller worked with the Nevada Department of Veteran Services and local elections officials during the 2009 legislative session to pass Assembly Bill 41, which allows Nevada voters overseas to register to vote; request and submit absentee ballots electronically; and accepted language from the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.

The passage of the MOVE Act in 2009 placed greater protections for services members and other overseas citizens by requiring elections officials to send absentee ballots to voters who request them at least 45 days before the election.

In July, the Military Voter Protection (MVP) Project named Nevada one of 15 All-Star states for taking significant efforts to promote and protect the voting rights of America’s military service members and their families.

Miller is joined by Secretaries of State from Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Michigan on the trip. The U.S. Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program is sponsoring the trip.

Nevada State Health Division Employees Recognized By U.S. Army For Support Of Troops In Afghanistan

By Sean Whaley | 2:21 pm May 20th, 2011

CARSON CITY – It started out with two individuals sending “care packages” to the troops deployed in Afghanistan but quickly turned into a concerted effort by employees of the Nevada State Health Division to make life a bit brighter for those serving in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Packages were sent with everything from beef jerky to “slightly used” decks of cards and dice from local casinos to the troops based in Kandahar, Afghanistan. One employee contributed hand knitted helmet liners.

In all, over 30 boxes were packed and shipped to two units during the winter and summer of 2010: the Army’s 10th Mountain Division and the Navy’s Naval Mobile Construction Battalion where two children of Health Division employees were serving.

“The collection boxes were filled over and over with interesting items unique to Nevada,” said an email describing the project. “The response from generous Health Division employees was overwhelming.”

Those serving with the two units are now safely home.

This outpouring of support was recognized today as Health Division employees received a framed plaque commemorating their efforts from the U.S. Army’s 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division.

Health Division Chief Richard Whitley and Ann Wilkinson, representing Gov. Brian Sandoval, stand with the memento presented by the U.S. Army/Photo: Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau

“The Nevada State Health Division provided exceptional support and encouragement to the soldiers of Bravo Company throughout their deployment to Afghanistan,” said a letter from the Army to the agency staff.

The gift was unveiled at the agency’s capital offices, one day before Armed Forces Day, with about 75 employees in attendance. The military was represented by Capt. Edward Furlong, the Sierra Nevada Recruitment Company commander for the U.S. Army.

It was received by Health and Human Services Director Mike Willden, Health Division Administrator Richard Whitley and Ann Wilkinson, deputy chief of staff for Gov. Brian Sandoval, who said the governor will be observing Armed Forces Day in Hawthorne.

Willden said the letter of thanks came from the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment known as the “Triple Deuces.”

“Their motto today is ‘Deeds, Not Words,’ ” Willden said. “And I thought that was kind of the connection to the Health Division. We are proud of our military and we’re proud of the support and the things we do for them, but it’s really about deeds, not words.”

Furlong said the Health Division employees clearly made an impact with the packages, because typically a letter of appreciation is sent out for such efforts.

Plaque presented to Nevada State Health Division employees.

“But not normally something this personal and something this big,” he said. “You guys really made an impact on some service members over there.”






Audio clips:

Health and Human Services Chief Mike Willden says Health Division employees embody the “Triple Deuces” motto:

052011Willden :17 deeds not words.”

Capt. Edward Furlong says Health Division employees made a real impact with their packages:

052011Furlong :22 members over there.”


Nevada Elections Officials Praised By Federal Agency For Quick Response To Ballot Issue

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 2:20 pm October 12th, 2010

CARSON CITY – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has praised Nevada elections officials for working “quickly and cooperatively” to address a delay in mailing ballots to uniformed and overseas voters due to the failure of a private vendor to deliver printed ballots on time.

The DOJ and Nevada Secretary of State’s office have worked diligently throughout the election cycle to monitor and enforce the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE Act), which requires local elections officials to mail ballots to uniformed and overseas voters 45 days before the election if the ballots are requested by then.

The 45-day deadline was missed by four or five days in the case of 34 Elko County voters because the ballots were not delivered to the county on time.

As a result, Secretary of State Ross Miller’s office filed an emergency regulation on Oct. 6 allowing Elko County an additional six days to receive and count ballots from the 34 voters.

All 34 Elko County voters were contacted and informed of the options available to them for returning their ballots electronically well ahead of election day. Many of the voters have already cast and returned their ballots.

In a statement issued Friday, Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the DOJ Civil Rights Division, said: “Nevada officials worked quickly and cooperatively with the department and adopted measures that will ensure the state’s military and overseas voters will have their votes counted in the upcoming election.”

Nevada Secretary Of State Says Overseas Voters Benefitting From New Technology

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 1:46 pm September 22nd, 2010

CARSON CITY – With less than four weeks to go before early voting begins for the Nov. 2 general election, military and civilian voters located overseas are already taking advantage of a new online system that verifies their marked ballots have been received by local election officials.

Secretary of State Ross Miller partnered with the Nevada Office of Veteran’s Services to get state legislation passed in 2009 that allows certain residents of the state to register to vote and request absentee ballots by fax or by email.

Once downloaded, completed, and scanned, the ballots can also be returned electronically. The legislation was pursued after a national study found that a high percentage of absentee ballots sent by mail from military and civilian voters overseas were not received in time to be counted.

Congress subsequently adopted similar legislation that also includes a requirement that states provide a mechanism to allow voters to verify their marked absentee ballots have been received. The provisions apply to all uniformed voters and civilian voters who are overseas at election time.

Uniformed and overseas voters can now go to the Election Center and use My Voter File to verify that their ballot has been received by their local election official.

“This is another in a series of efforts by my office to make sure all Nevadans who are serving their country outside of their home state can access the electoral process regardless of where they are at election time,” Miller said. “It’s inexcusable in this technological age to let anyone’s vote go uncounted because of distance and I’m very pleased to hear that many Nevadans away from home are already taking advantage of this new tool.”

Local elections officials began mailing, faxing, and emailing absentee ballots to uniformed and overseas civilians voters last week. The deadline for all Nevadans to register to vote electronically or by mail is Oct. 2. The deadline to register in person at a county clerk or registrar’s office is Oct. 12.

Early voting begins Oct. 16.