A History of NPRI
Advancing liberty is at the core of the Nevada Policy Research Institute’s mission and is the reason our organization exists.
In 1990, our founder, Judy Cresanta, traveled to the Soviet Union to train pro-democracy leaders in the principles of free markets and free elections. Judy saw people with no concept of personal freedoms, ownership, property rights or how market-driven economies work.
After reflecting on her visit, Judy realized that there was also a widespread misunderstanding and a deviation from those principles at home in the United States. As Ronald Reagan observed, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction ... It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
Determined not to let freedom slip away here at home, Judy founded NPRI in 1991 to provide freedom-friendly solutions to public problems. Judy’s exhaustive efforts laid the groundwork for the many accomplishments NPRI has had in the ensuing years and continues to have today.
NPRI’s influence through print, radio and television came quickly and caught the attention of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid. In the mid-1990s, Sen. Reid’s chief of staff threatened NPRI with an IRS investigation if we didn’t quit boldly telling Nevadans the truth about Reid’s activities. After we exposed his conduct to the media and stood firm against his intimidation tactics, Reid backed down.
Over the years, our research has been instrumental in stopping numerous tax increases, including the 2003 gross-receipts tax, the 2012 property tax hike in Clark County and the 2014 margin tax.
NPRI has produced innovative policy solutions in many areas, including groundbreaking studies on Nevada PERS, the effect of the so-called Affordable Care Act on Nevada’s Medicaid spending, revenue-neutral tax reform, an alternative state budget, collective bargaining reforms, federal ownership of Nevada’s land and school reforms, including school choice.
NPRI also produces a biennial issue guide for lawmakers called Solutions. The second edition, Solutions 2015, launched in November 2014 and contained briefs on more than 50 policy areas.
Lawmakers often turn to NPRI staff members for advice and analysis on legislation, and NPRI’s analysts and staff frequently testify before legislative committees.
News media regularly and frequently reach out to NPRI for comment on the day’s breaking news, and press outlets throughout the state cover our research, information campaigns and litigation efforts.
Coverage of NPRI’s work appears in every major Nevada media outlet numerous times throughout the year, and NPRI has earned coverage from dozens of national outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Drudge Report and Fox News.
Expanding government transparency is a major focus of the Institute, and in pursuit of that goal, NPRI publishes government employee compensation and retirement data on TransparentNevada.com. Since launching in 2008, the site has earned over 10 million page views and is credited for helping uncover a major sick-leave scandal in the Clark County Fire Department. TransparentNevada’s sister site, TransparentCalifornia.com, earned more than 10 million page views in just its first eight months of existence.
In 2010, NPRI launched the Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation, which is a public-interest law organization that litigates when necessary to protect the fundamental rights of individuals as set forth in the state and federal constitutions. CJCL cases have included championing the separation-of-powers principle in Nevada’s constitution, defending a Cuban pastor from the overreach of the federal government and suing to stop government from picking winners and losers in the economy.
NPRI has also run several innovative campaigns to help union members opt out of union membership. In Nevada, NPRI’s efforts to help school district employees leave their unions has decreased union membership by over 2,000 and cost the Nevada State Education Association and its affiliates over $3 million in lost dues.
Building off of that campaign, NPRI created National Employee Freedom Week to let union workers throughout the country know about their ability to leave their unions. In just its second year, NEFW grew to a coalition of 81 groups in 45 states in 2014. Stories highlighting the campaign have came from the Wall Street Journal, C-SPAN, Politico, Fox News and Fox Business Channel, and have informed millions of workers about their ability to leave their unions.
The battle for freedom is never finished, but as NPRI has grown from one woman’s vision to a staff of 13 with offices in Reno and Las Vegas, NPRI and its supporters are winning victories for freedom in Nevada and around the nation.
Judy M. Cresanta: 1991-2001
Helene Denney: 2001-2006
Sharon J. Rossie: 2006-2011
Andy Matthews: 2011-present