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 informing citizens about the numerous tax-hike proposals, 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, sound energy policy and school reforms, including the most expansive school choice program in the nation — known as Education Savings Accounts.
NPRI also produces a biennial publication for lawmakers called Solutions. The first edition, released in 2013, contained briefs for more than 39 policy areas. The latest edition, Solutions 2017, 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, Washington Examiner, Washington Times, Politico, The Guardian, Townhall, The Hill, The Blaze, LA Times, US News and World 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 21 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, has earned more than 98 million page views and is ranked among the top 0.001 percent most heavily trafficked websites nationwide.
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, litigating for more transparency in 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. Over the years, the Institute’s efforts have resulted in thousands of members opting-out of their unions — something that has cost the Nevada State Education Association and its affiliates millions in lost dues.
Building off of that campaign, NPRI created National Employee Freedom Week to let union workers throughout the country know about their right to leave their unions. In 2017, NEFW grew to a coalition of more than 100 national and state-based organizations. Some coalition members include the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Buckeye Institute, and the Heritage Foundation. News outlets highlighting the campaign include the Wall Street Journal, C-SPAN, Townhall, Washington Free Press, The Blaze, The Hill, Washington Times, Washington Examiner, Forbes, Politico, Fox News and Fox Business Channel.
The battle for freedom is never finished, but as NPRI has grown from one woman’s vision to a staff of 9 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: 2011-2015
Sharon J. Rossie: 2015-2017
John Tsarpalas: 2017-Present