The number of Nevadans drawing welfare benefits dropped to 27,621 in June, the state Welfare Division says.
"We're very encouraged by this,"Roger Mowbray, the agency's deputy administrator in charge of finance, said Thursday. But he noted that the number of people getting food stamps continues to climb.
The 27,621 people enrolled in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program was 5.2 percent lower than in May. And the total was 6,772 less than the number in June 2002.
The number of food stamp recipients grew 6.6 percent in May to 116,610, more than 17,000 more than were getting food stamps in May 2002. The food stamp report is a month behind the other reports.
The division said people on Medicaid, the program for medical care for the needy, dropped to 168,504 in June, a decrease of 0.8 percent compared with the previous month. But it was up by 11,919 from a year ago.
A major issue in the 2003 Legislature was the estimate of welfare recipients for the two-year budget cycle that opened July 1. Gov. Kenny Guinn, in his budget, estimated the caseload would be 39,709 this fiscal year and it would rise to 46,062 the following year.
Assembly Minority Leader Lynn Hettrick, R-Gardnerville, said he wasn't surprised that the June figure has fallen to its lowest point in a year."We kept saying the estimates were too high,"added Hettrick, who made that argument in opposing the record tax plan recently approved by legislators.
The Welfare Division revised its estimates during the legislative session to 35,000 this fiscal year and to 41,000 next fiscal year. Mowbray said the Legislature eventually provided money for an average 29,651 recipients this fiscal year and 32,170 next fiscal year.