In case you missed it...

Constitutional litigation:

The Nevada Policy Research Institute’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation has filed suit against Republican State Senator Heidi Gansert, for violation of Nevada’s constitutional Separation of Powers clause. “As a senator, she can simply not continue her employment in the executive branch — as Executive Director of External Relations for the University of Nevada, Reno — without violating this clearly worded constitutional provision,” said CJCL Director Joseph Becker. (Read more)



The decision about whether Clark County should offer the Las Vegas Monorail a $4.5 million line of credit is any easy one, according to Steve Sebelius. In the Review Journal this week he wrote that “the answer is not only no, but hell no.” As he points out, taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to bail out a problematic project that has been plagued by missteps since day one. “Taxpayers didn’t create the problems that bedevil the monorail,” and they shouldn’t be asked to bail it out, according to Sebelius. (Read more)


Nevada legislature:

As Chief Clerk of the Nevada Assembly, Susan Furlong earned more than $65,000 in overtime alone, in 2015. In addition to her base salary of $99,000, as well as $3,000 in “other pay,” Furlong’s 2015 total compensation of $167,000 has raised some eyebrows. Despite this massive payout in overtime, however, lawmakers have been extremely reluctant to look at reforms that would cut back on excessive overtime for legislative support staff. “Those are the types of discussions lawmakers should be welcoming,” said NPRI’s Transparency Director Robert Fellner. “That's kind of a bigger issue than just the dollar amount.” (Read more)


Fiscal and taxes:

Congressional Republicans are currently debating the possibility of a “border adjustment tax” to encourage domestic manufacturing. In short, the result of the policy would be a tax exemption for exports, and a tax penalty for imported goods. Many small businesses owners are already worried they will be caught in the crosshairs, but consumers should be worried as well. About 97 percent of apparel sold in the U.S., for example, is imported — and even domestically manufactured apparel relies heavily on imports. The end result will inevitably mean higher prices for American consumers, and higher costs for industries that depend on international trade. (Read more)


Political correctness:

The writing center at the University of Washington, Tacoma, issued a lengthy promise to eradicate the “structural” racism and bigotry inherent in the English language. Lamenting the traditional focus on grammatical “correctness,” and describing grammar as “a rhetorical set of choices with various consequences,” the memo made national news. And while the school insists its efforts to erase “micro-aggressions” in writing has been taken out of context, it seems to stand by the argument that teaching proper English in a traditional manner somehow encourages racism and bigotry. (Read more)



In case you missed it...

Fiscal and taxes:

Lawmakers in Washington D.C. heard from a small business owner this week who says he spends in excess of $14,000 per year trying to comply with the overly complex federal tax code. “The tax code is unfair to small businesses, biased against savings and investment, and impossibly complex,” said Tim Reynolds, the owner of a small software company in Ohio. “A tax system dedicated to investment, savings, and small business growth must be put in its place.” According to Reynolds, the overly burdensome tax system is a major hindrance for new startups and entrepreneurs. (Read more)


Minimum wage:

Economists of all stripes agree that when a business is forced to increase its minimum wage, it must also increase the price of its goods or services. Advocates of higher minimum wage generally gloss over this tradeoff, focusing instead on what they describe as the “wage gap” between the white middle class and struggling minority groups. The truth, however, is that in addition to increasing costs on all consumers, increasing the minimum wage disproportionately impacts these very same minorities with higher unemployment rates. (Read more)



Investors, taxpayers and government officials want to know what Faraday Future’s plan is moving forward. The electric car manufacturer, which was slated to receive over $215 million in tax incentives from the state, doesn’t seem to have a consistent message regarding its financial troubles. “Their story changes,” explained Nevada Treasurer Dan Schwartz. Currently, construction of Faraday’s planned manufacturing plant at Apex Industrial Park remains shuttered, due to lack of funding, and the company has been unable to pay many of its outstanding bills with various vendors. (Read more)


Labor unions:

Nearly 95 percent of Boeing’s 3,000 South Carolina workers turned out to vote in an election asking whether or not they wanted to be represented by the International Association of Machinists. That’s the exact same union that led the strike in Washington that convinced Boeing to move some operations to South Carolina. In a major blow to the union, almost 75 percent of workers rejected the union’s offer to represent them. (Read more)



Republicans have introduced another proposal to replace Obamacare. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., introduced a bill to replace the failed Affordable Care Act on Wednesday, and have already gained the support of the House Freedom Caucus. That’s a group of roughly 40 conservative members of the lower chamber. Among other things, the bill focuses heavily on the expansion of health savings accounts, removing the current maximum contribution limit of $3,400. (Read more)


Higher minimum wages hurt Hispanic workers most, 2016 data suggests

By Daniel Honchariw

While advocates of raising the minimum wage often argue that doing so will benefit Nevada’s minority communities, an analysis of economic data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests precisely the opposite — especially when it comes to Hispanic unemployment.

Consider these two related trends:

1) As minimum wages increase, so does Hispanic unemployment.

In the 17 states whose Hispanic population exceeded 10 percent of their total population in 2016 — which include Nevada — higher minimum wages correlate significantly with higher rates of Hispanic unemployment.

In the above scatterplot, each point represents a state whose Hispanic population exceeded 10 percent of its total population for 2016.

Generally, the chart shows that Hispanic unemployment tends to be higher in states where minimum wages are also relatively higher.

The regression equation (y=) suggests that each $1 increase to the minimum wage is associated with a .86-pt increased rate of unemployment for Hispanics.

For example, a $12 minimum wage, as Senate Bill 106 proposes, is associated with an unemployment rate of 9 percent for Hispanics, per the regression model.

Similarly, a $15 minimum wage, as Assembly Bill 175 proposes, is associated with an unemployment rate of 11.6 percent for Hispanics.

2) As minimum wages increase, the gap between Hispanic unemployment and total unemployment widens.

In those same 17 states, higher minimum wages are associated with larger gaps between the unemployment rates of Hispanics and those for all unemployed.

Generally, the chart shows that the gap between Hispanic unemployment and total unemployment (Hispanic – Total) tends to be higher in states whose minimum wages are relatively higher.

The regression equation (y=) suggests that each $1 increase to the minimum wage increases the gap between Hispanic unemployment and total unemployment by .62-pts.

To illustrate with a hypothetical:

  • With a minimum wage of $8, Hispanic unemployment might be 6 percent while total unemployment is 5 percent.
  • If the minimum wage increased to $9, the model suggests that Hispanic unemployment might increase to 7 percent while total unemployment also increases, but only to 5.38 percent — thus increasing the gap (Hispanic – Total) by .62-pts.


Thus, not only do higher minimum wages seem to hurt Hispanics, they hurt them disproportionately compared to other racial demographics.

Other studies have observed a similar effect of increased minimum wages upon the unemployment gap for black workers and, in particular, black youth.

From the PanAm Post:

Before the [Federal Labor Standards Act], the black-white unemployment gap was insignificant, never permanently exceeding 1 percent. But since the introduction of the minimum wage, the gap has increased . . .

In a study of over 600,000 data points, focusing on 16 to 24-year-old males without a high school diploma, the Employment Policies Institute found that every 10 percent increase in a federal or state minimum wage decreased black youth employment by 6.5 percent.

Of course, these and all similar regression models do not prove causation (e.g., x leads to y) but merely, in each instance, a significant correlation.

However, the strength and direction of the associations should make it difficult for even the most vocal advocates for a higher minimum wage to ignore — especially those whose ostensible purpose is to help minority communities.

Daniel Honchariw, MPA is a policy researcher and analyst with NPRI.


In case you missed it...



Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, was confirmed on Tuesday of this past week. The nomination of DeVos — a vocal advocate for expanding school choice — marked the first time a Vice President has been called on to break a tie vote during the confirmation of a cabinet pick. Advocates of educational choice see her confirmation as a big step forward toward returning to parents control over the education of their children. (Read more)


The 79th Legislative Session:

Some lawmakers in the Nevada legislature are absolutely determined to hike the state’s minimum wage law. The proposal, SB106, would increase the minimum wage to $12 per hour — with no exemption for teenagers or training positions. Lawmakers pushing the bill have said that if it is vetoed by Governor Sandoval, they will consider passing it as a proposed constitutional amendment instead, giving it a chance to go to the voters. (Read more)


Environmental regulations:

It’s always important to focus on policy, rather than politics. Some self-described conservatives have released a new report titled “The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends.” But looking at the plan, it is little more than a proposal for a carbon tax — the same kind of economically damaging tax proposed by the environmental lobby on numerous occasions. To give an idea of how fiscally damaging such a tax could eventually be, consider that over 80 percent of American energy consumption would be impacted by such a tax on carbon emissions. (Read more)


Labor issues:

Two more states have passed some version of “Right to Work” laws so far this year, with many more proposals working their way through various state legislatures. With the passage of reforms in Missouri and Kentucky, a total of 28 states are now considered “Right to Work” states. The trend toward more worker freedom is so strong, even union leaders are beginning to recognize that the days of forced unionization is on its way out. The former southern regional director for the United Auto Workers, Gary Casteel, captured the essence of the reform: “If you don't think the [union] is earning its keep, then you don't have to pay.” (Read more)


Government regulation:

A senior official at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has recommended reducing firearm regulations, saying that doing so would be beneficial for both the firearms industry and the agency. In a memo, Ronald Turk told the agency that doing so “could improve ATF operations,” adding that it would “allow ATF to further focus precious personnel and resources on the mission to combat gun violence.” Naturally, the ATF has since explained that the views expressed in Turk's memo are not necessarily shared by the agency’s leadership. (Read more)


In case you missed it...



Proponents of the Affordable Care Act claim that up to 27 percent of the American population are in danger of losing insurance coverage if Obamacare is repealed, due to pre-existing conditions. However, when you start to look at the actual data — and compare it with numbers from the pre-Obamacare era — it becomes clear that this alleged risk is merely a scare tactic. (Read more)


Fiscal and taxes:

Some legislators, prompted by county officials across the state, argue that property taxes simply aren’t rising fast enough for their taste. As a result, a proposal is being made to do away with, or at least alter, the current limits on how quickly property taxes can climb in any given year. It’s shaping up to be a battle in 2017, as other legislators insist that the tax caps have done their job — protecting homeowners and businesses from increased tax bills as the economy continues to claw its way back from the recession. (Read more)



The Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas hit a speed bump this week. On Monday, the Adelson family announced it would be pulling out of the stadium deal. Soon after, Goldman Sachs also withdrew its support. Even though private investors might be backing out of the deal, taxpayers will remain on the hook for their $750 million share no matter what. In fact, politicians are already looking for other ways to spend the money raised by the tax hike, should the Raiders’ relocation not come to fruition. (Read more)



Contrary to what opponents claim — that Education Savings Accounts will only benefit the “wealthy” — the reform looks to be in a position to help low income families the most. Roughly two-thirds of the completed applications for the ESA program come from households making less than $50,000 a year, according to the state treasurer’s office. The numbers suggest that low income families are among the most eager for the implementation of the program. (Read more)


Regulation and bureaucracy:

Licensing laws are appropriate for professions that carry a substantial risk of physical harm. But Nevada’s go far beyond that narrow scope. In fact, nearly 31 percent of the Silver State’s workforce must first obtain government approval in order to work — the second highest rate nationwide. Many of these requirements are simply not needed. Consider the 2011 law that made it a criminal offense to practice music therapy without a license. (Read more)



Seeing the ESA program over the finish line

Good afternoon ESA friends,

It’s hard to believe, but we are just days away from the 2017 Nevada Legislative Session. On Monday, February 6, the legislature will convene in Carson City. And, Nevada’s Education Savings Account (ESA) program promises to be a topic hotly debated.

As you know, the Nevada Supreme Court has ruled the ESA program constitutional. The hold-up on the program has to do with legislative appropriations. Without funding from the legislature, the program cannot move forward — and thus, thousands of families have been left floundering.

For lawmakers in support of the program, helping those thousands of children is a-hill-to-die-for, and they’ve vowed: “No ESA funding — No budget.”

Lawmakers who oppose the program vow unequivocally: “No ESA funding!”

Without a doubt, Nevada’s children — children who for decades have been trapped in a failing education system — are caught in the political crosshairs.

Now, lest you think otherwise, the ESA program absolutely should not, in any way, be about partisan politics. It should be — and for it is — about the lives and future of Nevada’s children. Thousands of Nevada families are clinging to the hope of ESA and the opportunities it opens. So this program is about the lives and futures of children — their children and our children.

Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that our children’s future is indeed caught up in a game of partisan politics. But there is hope — despite everything you will probably hear in coming weeks.

That’s because of the one area where every politician is accountable: Regardless of political-party affiliation or special-interest demands, all legislators know that it’s their constituents — the voters — to whom they’re responsible most of all.

Friends, if you’re tired, ticked-off and find the system discouraging, you’re not alone. I’m there too. But all of us ESA supporters — parents and community members alike — can see the finish line ahead, right before us.

So, it’s more important than ever before that we understand: Now is the time to fight — fight hard — and see the ESA program over the finish line.

Now, I’m not talking about putting on boxing gloves and going toe-to-toe with your representatives. I’m talking about taking 10 to 20 minutes a day to make sure your representative and all Nevada’s elected officials know your story and desire for this program. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this, which I will discuss over the next few weeks.

First and foremost, however: If you have previously applied for an ESA, you must go to the Treasurer’s ESA portal and Hit Submit! Whether you’ve previously been approved or mailed in your application in 2016, everyone will have to go into the portal to verify their information and upload any missing documents. Everyone! To be in the official application count, you must fully complete your application online and hit that final submit button in the new system.

To check if your application has been entered into the new database and set your password, parents should follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Treasurer’s ESA portal.
  2. Click on the “Forgot Password” tab.
  3. Enter the email used for your child’s application
    1. If you have been entered into the system, a link to set your password will be sent to your email. Follow that link to set your password. Then complete your application.
    2. If your information is still pending data entry — about 1700 applications have yet to be entered by the Treasurer — keep checking back with the “Forgot Password” function. Applications are being entered daily. DO NOT REAPPLY!!

Remember, ultimately, everyone must verify and update their applications through the new portal.

Only applications finalized through the portal will be counted!

I know this process can be overwhelming. is here to help you. We will be holding several Hit Submit! events across the state in the upcoming months. Be sure to check our events page for dates and times. If you have them, bring your laptop and microSD or USB flashdrive for a faster process. Scanners will be available, so bring your documents.

Currently, we have the following events confirmed:

  • Wednesday, February 8

6:00 p.m.
Innovations Academy
5705 N. Rainbow (Ann and Rainbow area)


  • Thursday, February 9 (drop-in)

9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
NPRI Office
7130 Placid St., Las Vegas, 89119

Several more events are in the works and should be confirmed soon. In the meantime, if you have any questions or need any assistance with the application process, feel free to email me at or call the office at 702-222-0642.

Required documents include:

  • Copy of the parent’s valid Government issued ID.
  • A certified or verified copy of the student’s birth certificate (this can be a clear photo copy) AND Proof of legal guardianship (if you’re not the biological parent).
  • Copy of your most current utility bill (applicant parent name and address) OR Copy of current property tax bill OR rental lease agreement (applicant parent name and address).
  • Proof of income — first two pages of last year’s tax return or a current pay stub.
  • Proof of 100 days — four report cards, letter from school or attendance record.
  • If you answered yes to the question about your child having disabilities, you must provide a copy of your current Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a letter from a doctor.
  • If you are a military family currently serving in Nevada, you must provide a copy of your current orders.

Now, for some really good news, Treasurer Dan Schwartz has released the new enrollment dates for 2017.

New applications are currently being accepted through April 2017. If you have not yet applied for the ESA program and you meet the eligibility requirements, you can apply through the Treasurer’s ESA portal. Applications submitted during this period are slated for August 2017 funding.

The next enrollment period will be August 2017 through October 2017 and will begin funding in February 2018.

Of course, all program funding depends on the 2017 legislature. Also, please note, while the 2017 enrollment periods are for a longer time period, there are only two enrollment periods this year.

For more information on the ESA program and eligibility visit If you would like to learn more about participating in the legislative process, send me an email at Also, be sure to sign the ESA petition at and sign up for the updates. And, share this email with all your friends!

As always, thank you for the trust you’ve placed in Now, let’s Hit Submit!




In case you missed it...


National School Choice Week:

Despite temperatures in the 20s on Wednesday morning, hundreds of students, parents and teachers braved the cold and rallied at the Capitol Building in Carson City for National School Choice Week. The crowd cheered on a handful of speakers, and held signs urging policymakers to expand educational choice in the Silver State. Nevada Policy Research Institute’s Karen Gray pointed out that with Education Savings Accounts on the agenda for 2017, the rally lets lawmakers know there is a substantial grassroots movement fighting to empower parents and students with choice in education. (Read more)


Education reform:

School choice isn’t a new concept — it has been tried repeatedly, and its success is obvious. Carlos and Calvin Battle grew up in the poorest neighborhood in Washington D.C., where gang violence and poverty are nearly inescapable. And yet, because of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program — D.C.’s school choice program — these two brothers now see more opportunity for their future than they ever thought possible. (Watch the video)



During Thursday’s Stadium Authority Board meeting in Las Vegas, the Oakland Raiders organization submitted its proposal for leasing the $1.9 billion domed stadium, once it is built. Under the proposed lease, the team would pay a mere $1 per year for use of the partially taxpayer-funded facility. Board members will review the 107-page document with their legal counsel and discuss it in detail during a meeting next month. (Read more)


Labor unions:

Labor unions continue to decline in membership, as more workers embrace their freedom to opt out of membership. Union membership fell below 11 percent nationwide in 2016, as 240,000 due-paying members exited. Currently, about 14.6 million workers remain in labor organizations — approximately half as many as in 1983, when the federal government began tracking such data. (Read more)


Economic growth:

Since the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis began tracking Gross Domestic Product growth in 1929, America has seen only one 11-year stretch when annual growth in real GDP failed to hit 3 percent. That was 2006 through 2016 — the longest stretch of sub-par growth on record. (Read more)




In case you missed it...


Governor Brian Sandoval has announced his agenda for the 2017 legislative session, and it includes funding for the state’s Education Savings Account program. While the proposed $60 million is a step in the right direction, it remains far short of what is needed. In fact, Sandoval’s proposed funding would not even be enough to cover the more than 8,000 students that have already applied. (Read more)


Labor and unions:

Employee freedom might very well be reaching New England. The right-to-work bill, which passed New Hampshire’s state Senate this week, would ensure that no worker is forced to pay union dues or fees in order to keep his or his job. If the bill becomes law, New Hampshire would become the 28th state to adopt right-to-work legislation, and the first to do so in New England. (Read more)


Free markets:

A graduate student from Russia, Konstantin Zhukov, said he was blown away the first time he walked into a Walmart and saw the massive amount of choice available to American consumers. Socialism and cronyism, he explains, doesn’t allow for such prosperity in Russia. “People want to come to the United States, because of higher standards of living — because of opportunity,” Zhukov says, crediting capitalism for America’s prosperity. (Watch Zhukov’s video)


Taxpayer ‘contributions’:

“Raiders Stadium” is one step closer to becoming a reality. This week Raiders’ owner Mark Davis officially filed the relocation paperwork with the NFL, in hopes of moving the team to Las Vegas. The NFL owners will likely wait until late March before making a decision. Davis and Las Vegas Sands. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson — who has promised to contribute $650 million toward the stadium — are still working out some “sticking points,” ahead of the meeting. The Raiders are expected to contribute $500 million toward the proposed stadium, with the remaining $750 million coming from a room-tax increase passed by the Nevada legislature in 2016. (Read more)



President Donald Trump’s inauguration, so far, has triggered a great deal of drama — record histrionics on among some, and relief and celebration among others. Some colleges have offered “safe spaces” for upset millennials, other schools have refused to broadcast the ceremony to their students and the communist government in China has gone so far as to ban any reporting of the event. But for all the hullabaloo, it’s important to realize that, compared to some past inaugurations, it’s all pretty tame. When a political outsider and national celebrity became president in the early 19th Century, celebrations got so out of hand that the newly inaugurated president had to escape out a side window of the White House to avoid a mob of over-zealous (and drunken) supporters. (Read more)




PERS Contribution Rates and Investment Returns Chart

Two years ago, NPRI noted that costs for the Public Employees' Retirement System of Nevada (PERS) have increased fourfold since inception. 
The below chart is an update of that post, which includes data through the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016:
Obviously, the alarming trend has continued unabated. As a result of continued growth in the System's unfunded liabiltiy — now at an all-time high of $13.5 billion — contribution rates for regular employees have risen to 28 percent of payroll, leaving new members "net losers" while also contributing to Nevada's teacher shortage.
It's important to note that, for actuarial purposes, the investment returns displayed above reflects a smoothing of gains and losses to mute the impact of any indvidual year. So while PERS actual investment gain for the 2016 fiscal year was only 2.3 percent, the System reported an actuarial return of 7.7 percent, due to previously unrecognized investment gains.
This leaves PERS with nearly $900 million in unrecognized losses going forward, which will be incrementally absorbed by the System over the next four years. Unless the System outperforms its 8 percent assumed annual rate of return over that timeperiod, debt will rise faster than anticipated, resulting in even higher contribution rates. 
To learn more about PERS, please visit


In case you missed it…


A popular New York City restaurant has had enough of big government and, after 25 years in business, is closing its doors. According to a letter posted on the front door by the owners, “The climate for small businesses like ours in New York have become such that it’s difficult to justify taking risks and running — never mind starting — a legitimate mom-and-pop business.” (Read more)


Fiscal and taxes:

Politicians never run out of ways to circumvent the protections afforded to taxpayers. Despite a requirement put in place to protect taxpayers from tax-hiking politicians, the legislature has determined that it can avoid requiring a two-thirds vote by the legislature on local tax issues, by simply using a majority vote to grant local government the authority to tax. By skirting the constitution in such a way, lawmakers have been saddling taxpayers with higher local taxes for more than 20 years. (Read more)


Government bureaucracy:

Believing the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives is both redundant and ineffective, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has introduced legislation to eliminate the agency. “The ATF is a scandal-ridden, largely duplicative agency that has been branded by failure,” said Sensenbrenner. Other agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Agency, would assume various duties currently assigned to the BATFE under the proposed bill. (Read more)


Harry Reid retirement:

Former Senate minority leader Harry Reid officially unveiled a portrait of himself to be displayed in the United States Capitol. The Democrat senator apparently used campaign funds to pay a former staffer $7,000 to paint the portrait. The $7,000 price tag is actually somewhat modest compared to some of his former colleagues. In 2007, Democrat Rep. Charlie Rangel used money from his leadership PAC to pay for a portrait of himself that cost $64,500. (Read more)


Government waste and abuse:

The Nevada Piggy Book 2016 is here! Despite the fiscally conservative rhetoric thrown around by Nevada politicians during election years, Carson City consistently caves to the political special interests peddling big-government schemes — knowing that taxpayers will ultimately be compelled to bail out the overspending. So, what better way to deal with government’s uncanny ability to burn through tax dollars than by alerting citizens to some of the latest, specific examples of government’s penchant for wasting all that hard-earned tax money? (Read more)


Total Records: 2035

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