In case you missed it...

Merry Christmas!

It’s hard to believe that the end of the year is almost here. Hanukkah begins on Saturday, Christmas day is Sunday and the New Year is just around the corner. 

It’s a time of year when many of us try to step back from our day-to-day lives and spend a little time with family and friends. After all, this last year has been extraordinarily busy for most of us — and things aren’t about to slow down in 2017. But for now, we can rest.

The holidays present an opportunity to refocus on the people that are most important to us, and let them know how grateful we are for their love and support.

Which is why, on behalf of the entire staff at the Nevada Policy Research Institute, I would like to thank the Institute’s family of supporters and friends. Your generosity, dedication and enthusiasm for our shared ideals has helped to both preserve and expand liberty and individual freedom during a time of increasingly intrusive government.

I hope that as you celebrate the holidays you will consider renewing your support for the Institute, by making a tax-deductible donation before the end of the year. Such a gift will help ensure that there remains a strong and independent voice for liberty in the Silver State. Please visit NPRI.org to make a donation.   

Once again, thank you for helping us keep Nevada prosperous and free.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Warm regards,

Sharon J. Rossie
NPRI President


 

Education:

Educational choice — such as Nevada’s Education Savings Accounts — really should not be a partisan issue. Kevin Chavous, a Democrat and former councilman in Washington D.C., understands this more than most politicians after seeing the success of school choice in in his own city. According to Chavous, the people who are generally against school choice, are the ones that already have it. Among parents who have children trapped in underperforming schools, however, the possibility of a better education is overwhelmingly popular. (Read more)

 

Healthcare:

Yet another healthcare provider has decided to leave the Obamacare exchange at the end of the year. Evergreen Health Cooperative’s announcement earlier this month means only five out of the original 23 co-ops will continue to operate in exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. The massive losses incurred by Evergreen forced the company to abandon the exchanges — despite a $65.5 million taxpayer-funded loan in 2012. (Read more)

 

Green energy:

Government officials in Colorado, Utah and Nevada have agreed to fully subsidize a series of electric vehicle charging stations — creating a network that would make it possible for electric vehicles to travel the 2,000 miles of highway between Denver, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. (Read more)

 

First Amendment:

Families of three individuals killed in the Orlando nightclub massacre are suing Facebook, Google and Twitter, claiming that the social media giants did not do enough to censor material that may have contributed to the radicalization of the gunman. The lawsuit even goes so far as to allege that the social media companies provide “material support” and “an infrastructure” to terrorist organizations by not censoring enough content. The lawyer for the case argues that social media companies should essentially be held responsible for the content published by its users.  (Read more)

 

Political favoritism:

Bald and Golden eagles are among the numerous protected birds that are slaughtered in large numbers by industrial-scale wind energy. While other industries must cope with fines, penalties and even criminal charges for exceeding a permitted number of “acceptable” eagle deaths, renewable energy companies have been virtually licensed to kill the majestic birds. In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to quadruple the number of eagles wind farms will be allowed to kill per year, and has even said it will waive fines and criminal charges for firms that exceed their permitted number of kills. (Read more)

 

CalPERS cuts discount rate to 7 percent

The nation’s largest public pension plan, CalPERS, just adopted a plan to reduce their 7.5 percent assumed rate of return to 7 percent over the next three years.

One board member described the rate reduction as “giving us a chance to be a leader in the nation in responsible pension funding.”

It is a move that the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Nevada (NVPERS) should seek to emulate.

At 8 percent, NVPERS assumed average annual investment return is one of the highest in the nation.

The use of inappropriate investment rates increases the likelihood that future generations will be burdened with the cost of past debt — much like what has already happened to current NVPERS members — while also exposing the fund to potential insolvency.

This is why over 100 countries require pension plans to use discount rates based on bond yields — similar to the approach required for U.S. private pension plans — which results in rates ranging from approximately 3.5 percent to 6 percent.

Even the pension plan at Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway only forecasts a 6.5 percent assumed rate of return on its investments. 

In other words, NVPERS investments must outperform Warren Buffett in order to generate sufficient funds to make good on the promises made to retirees.

That’s one risky bet. 

Robert Fellner is the director of transparency research at the Nevada Policy Research Institute.


 

 

In case you missed it...

Cronyism:

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development gave roughly $1.8 million in tax abatements to Amazon.com last month, describing it as part of an “incentive” for the company to place a new fulfillment center in southern Nevada. The problem, however, is that Amazon needed to come to Las Vegas regardless of tax incentives, as it’s a necessary part of the strategy the company had publicly laid out months ago to its shareholders. (Read more)

 

Business:

Faraday Future says it will unveil a prototype of its first production car at the CES 2017 trade show in Las Vegas next month — despite the fact that executives of the company have described it as “running out of cash.” Faraday even had to shut down the construction of its factory north of Las Vegas, despite an agreement from the state that would have allowed for nearly $300 million in tax incentives. According to former executives with the company, the struggling would-be automaker’s first vehicle is expected to be a large electric sedan, with a price tag of $150,000 - $200,000. (Read more)

 

Fiscal and taxes:

The United States tax code is becoming even more complex. In 2016 the IRS added 7.7 million words of tax regulation to help “clarify” Title 26 of the US Code — which itself stands at almost 75,000 pages. In addition to this massive amount of regulatory language, another 60,000 pages of case law are associated with the code. Is it any wonder that complying with the tax code costs the American economy around $1 trillion annually? (Read more)

 

Federal lands:

President-elect Donald Trump announced Thursday he has selected Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., a former Navy SEAL, to be the next interior secretary. Zinke has a long track record of leadership and independence. Unfortunately, Zinke is staunchly opposed to the Republican Party’s stated goal of returning federal lands to the states, saying instead all that is needed is “better management.” (Read more)

 

Education:

If parental satisfaction is any indication, traditional assigned-district public schools “may be an endangered species,” according to a new report from Education Next. The report shows that parents, unsurprisingly, are most satisfied with their child’s education when they have a larger say in where their child is educated. The private sector received the highest levels of satisfaction from parents, followed by charter schools and then programs that allow genuine choice within public school districts. (Read more)

 

ESA update: Don't forget to 'Hit Submit'

Happy Holidays, ESA friends!

For me, during this time of hustle-and-bustle I sometime forget to do things that are on my list.  I’m sure you’re probably the same way. 

This email is just a gentle whisper to remind everyone who has previously submitted an ESA application to complete their online ESA registration.

So, I thought a little operation called “Hit Submit” might be helpful! 

“Hit Submit” — Catchy, right?

Everyone who has completed an ESA application prior to this current registration period — whether in 2015 or 2016, through email, online or in hardcopy — will have to sign-in to the Treasurer’s new ESA portal to verify and/or update their application in the new system.

And I do mean everyone

Now, not all applications have been entered or transferred into the new online data system, so if you haven’t received a letter yet from the Treasurer’s  accounts@nevadatreasurer.net — be sure to check junk and spam folders — don’t fret.  They are still moving applications over into the online system. 

But here’s a little trick I learned — a way to see if your application has been moved into the new system: Go to the portal’s “forgot password” and enter your email. If your application IS in the new system, it will walk you through creating a new password. On the other hand, if your application ISN’T in the system yet, it will say “Email ID does Not Exist.”  This means the Treasurer has not yet transferred your data into the system, so be patient.

Also, if you haven’t received an email from the Treasurer asking you to come to the new site verify the information there, please remember the message from my previous email: Whatever you do, DO NOT REAPPLY! Doing so could impact your eligibility.  

Again, everyone who applied for an ESA before this current registration period, including those families who received an acceptance letter, must verify and/or update their applications through the new ESA portal.

Now, for those who’ve been asked to verify their information, let’s walk through the process…

  1. Go to the Treasurer’s ESA portal and click “Already a Member?”
  2. Use the same email address the Treasurer contacted you with as your Username.
  3. If you already have a password, enter it.
  4. If you do not remember or never had a password to the ESA portal, click on the “Forgot Password” tab and enter your email address. The Treasurer’s office will send you an email with a Link to reset your password.

Once in the portal, on the first page you will create your main dashboard.  This is primarily parent information. This will be your dashboard to later access all your children’s accounts.

  1. Verify that the information is correct.  Make any changes that are needed (address, phone etc.…)
  2. Upload any missing documents, even if you previously supplied them— after all, we are dealing with technology.
  3. New documentation will be required to be uploaded for all applicants:
  • Report cards, letter from school or attendance record to prove 100 days of enrollment if over age seven
  • Proof of income
  1. Parents should mark themselves as a participating entity in order to receive reimbursements for allowable expenses paid up-front.
  2. If you want to keep your records private, be sure to checkmark the box indicating such.
  3. Once you’ve updated your page, locate your child’s name in the “Select Student” drop down list and hit “Update ESA Account” to review that child’s application
  4. Remember, verify the student information as it was at the time of application!
  • Do not change the age, grade, etc… to the current status.  For example, if your child is a girl and was age 6 when you applied, but is now 7 years old.  Make sure she’s marked Female, but leave her age as 6 years old.  That’s how old she was on the date you applied.
  1. After you have gone through each “next” button and have updated all the student information and uploaded your documents, “Hit Submit.” Okay… the button is actually labeled as “complete,” but I was going for effect. “Hit Submit” just sounds so much better!
  • If you have missing information, the system will kick you back so you can correct it.
  1. Repeat the process for each child. If your child is not listed, it is because they are not yet in the system. (Don’t reapply.)
  • If you have applied for multiple children and one or more of your children are not listed, don’t panic! It just means the Treasurer has not yet completed transferring their information into the new system.  Once again, do not reapply! The Treasurer will get everyone put into the system shortly.
  1. If you have any other problems, you can submit a ticket to the Help Desk.

And here’s one last tip to help you through the process: set up your account’s main dashboard right now. Then, come back when you can to complete your children’s applications.  Don’t wait until you “have time.”  Most days, my “time” comes in spurts.  I’m sure yours does also.  Getting the Dashboard set up will make the whole process easier when you finally have the time to get everything else finalized.

From all of us NevadaESA.com, we want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and happy, warm and safe holiday season! 

Remember, Hit Submit!

#LetOurChildrenSucceed

~Karen

 

In case you missed it...

Fiscal and taxes:

As Congress tries to wrap up business for 2016, a group of Democrat lawmakers have said they are determined to “use whatever means necessary” to bail out a private union retirement plan with taxpayer dollars. According to four senators, Democrats are willing to block other bills, and grind business at the capitol to a halt, in order to feed taxpayer money into the United Mine Workers of America pension plan. (Read more)

 

Nevada PERS:

Over the last 20 years, the investments of Nevada Public Employees Retirement System (NVPERS) have grown from $6.5 billion into $35 billion. It’s certainly a remarkable investment record — and it’s highlighted often by the PERS board as proof of the program’s solvency. But this information reveals literally nothing about whether or not the System’s primary objective — fully funding the cost of retirees’ promised benefits — is being met. In the same time frame, the system’s debt exploded from $2.2 billion to more than $12.5 billion — kicking the costs of retired workers up to record-high levels, which current workers are being required to pay. Oblivious to this phenomenon, the PERS chairman recently derided teachers for expressing legitimate concerns about the future of the program — even going so far as to call them “idiots,” saying they “really don’t understand what’s going on.” (Read more)

 

Socialism:

Socialism is no way to run a country — or a business. Described as “communistic” by a post on its Facebook page, a Michigan restaurant that prided itself on its socialist management has been forced to close. Run as a collective, the restaurant paid all staff an equal wage, banned servers from collecting tips and even let employees collectively determine the establishment’s hours. All this ultimately resulted in poor service, high prices and very unsatisfied customers. (Read more)

 

Government overreach:

A small town in Maryland has voted to block a federally licensed firearms dealer from opening a small home-based business. The town council rejected Michael Wonsala’s request for a zoning change, which would allow him to repair and sell a small number of collectible and historic firearms out of his home. Furthermore, the council says it now plans to update the town code to prohibit gun sales altogether. (Read more)

 

Healthcare:

Proponents of Obamacare have repeatedly bragged that, because of the reform, more than 20 million previously uninsured adults have gained coverage. But it turns out this number is based off a survey, not actual enrollment numbers — and it includes young adults who have decide to remain on their parents’ existing insurance. The real number of newly insured adults is likely several million people less than the “official” numbers touted by Obamacare proponents. (Read more)

 

In case you missed it...

Cronyism:

Citizens might have heard earlier this year that Tesla Motors sold $20 million of Transferable Tax Credits — gifted to them by the state of Nevada as part of their $1.3 billion incentive package — to MGM Resorts International. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As it turns out, there’s a serious amount of money to be made by schemes targeting tax credits from local governments — and a $17 million mansion on the north shore of Lake Tahoe is the proof. (Read more)

 

Federal overreach:

A small Hispanic church in rural Nevada won a major victory over the federal government Tuesday. Six years ago the U.S. Government’s Fish & Wildlife Service illegally and deliberately diverted a spring-fed stream to which the Solid Rock Ministry in Nye County had long-vested water rights — a move that resulted in massive flooding to the property. On Tuesday, a judge rejected arguments central to the federal government’s defense. (Read more)

 

Labor market:

The good news is that there is a record number of people — over 152 million — currently employed in the United States. The bad news, however, is that a record 95 million Americans are currently not in the labor market. Some economists claim the increase in non-working adults could be because baby-boomers are deciding to retire. Such a theory, however, runs contrary to a recent trend identified by the Labor Department showing that older Americans are increasingly remaining in the workforce. (Read more)

 

Taxation:

A man who inherited a house in Normandy from his deceased relative thought he had found treasure when he discovered thousands of gold coins and two gold bars stashed away on the property. However, what he really discovered was just how cruel taxation can be. Upon learning about the find, the French government levied a 45 percent inheritance tax on the gold, along with three years of back taxes because the man’s deceased relative failed to declare the hidden gold. (Read more)

 

Individual liberty:

America is known as “the land of the free” — but that title is slowly slipping away. According to the Cato Institute’s new Human Freedom Index, there are 22 other countries more free than America. Hong Kong, Switzerland, New Zealand and Ireland topped the list for individual liberty. On the other end of  the list of 157 nations, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Iran were among the least free. (Read more)

 

 

We know exactly why we’re thankful

On behalf of everyone at the Nevada Policy Research Institute, we want to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.

As Nevadans, we have many reasons to show our thanks.

We live in a beautiful state, in an incredible country, and are blessed with privileges, rights and freedoms that much of the rest of the world has never experienced.

Indeed, we are truly blessed. As Abraham Lincoln once explained it:

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown.”

It is this appreciation for the freedoms we have that motivates so many of us to dedicate ourselves to preserving this American experiment. It’s a cause we take seriously here at the Institute.

But we don’t do this alone.

We might be the ones putting together policy solutions and compiling the research — but it’s supporters and advocates like you that truly make all our work possible.

None of what we do would have the impact it has without your support and enthusiasm for our shared ideals. Indeed, it is your generosity and engagement throughout the years that has made NPRI’s defense of freedom possible — and has turned the Institute into an effective champion of limited government.

We at the Institute are blessed to have so many supporters, friends and proponents who are willing to help us do what we do. We’re thankful for all you do in support of freedom.  

You truly are the driving force behind what allows us to keep doing the work that we love.

We all sincerely thank you. Together we will continue fighting to keep Nevada and the west prosperous and free.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving Day.

Sincerely,

 

Nevada Policy Research Institute staff

 

Treasurer’s ESA application portal has gone live!

Good morning ESA friends,

The Treasurer’s ESA application portal has gone live! There’s a lot to walk through, so let’s get straight to it…

Please be aware, while Treasurer Dan Schwartz continues to move forward with ESA applications, the program remains unfunded.  Continuing through the application process does not guarantee funding.  Ultimately, getting the program funded and fully operational will be an issue for the 2017 legislature. 

For now, if you are interested in applying for the ESA program, you can do so through NevadaESA.com or the Treasurer’s ESA website.  Previous applicants will be able to update their files through both of those links as well — but a word of warning from the Treasurer:

If you have already sent in an application, do not reapply!! Reapplying will change your enrollment date.

New Applicants

If you haven’t already applied, here’s what you need to know:

Sign in as a new applicant and set up your account. The first page you will complete seeks parent information. This will be your primary dashboard to apply for and access all your children’s accounts. You will be required to upload your driver’s license or other ID, utility statements, proof of income and, if applicable, military orders here. 

Also, this is the place to mark yourself as a participating entity — something you will want to do so the Treasurer can reimburse you for education-related expenses covered by ESAs.

Also, if you are interested in being on the treasurer’s parent review committee, you can indicate that interest here. It only lets the Treasurer know you are interested — it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be picked. 

After you complete your information, you will “add” your child and go through the application process for each student you want to enroll in the program.  During this phase of the application you will be asked for your child’s social security number, student ID number (if age 7 or older) and public school information. Remember, most charter schools will be listed under the State Charter School Authority, not your school district.  However, if you cannot find your charter school on the school list, go back to the sponsor list and check the schools listed under your school district.

You will need to upload your child’s birth certificate, any guardianship papers, if applicable, as well as any IEPs. New to the application, you will be asked to upload documentation supporting 100 days of enrollment in a Nevada public school — report cards, letter from school, or attendance transcript.

After completing the application and uploading the required documentation, you will submit your application and receive a confirmation email.  This email is proof of application, not an approval notice. Approval or denial notices will come later, after the application has been processed. 

If you need to apply for another child, again select “add” from the dashboard, and repeat the process for the next child. 

Previous Applicants

A large batch of notices have already gone out to some parents. You may or may not have received an email asking you to update and verify your application information online. Do not worry if you have not received a notice — the treasurer’s office is still entering paper applications and transferring older applicants to the new database. 

If you’ve already applied for an ESA, and you haven’t seen an email from the Treasurer, check your Inbox and Spam folders for an email from accounts@nevadatreasurer.net. Check it every few days, as notices will continue to be sent out as the Treasurer enters the backlog of paper applications into the system.

Whatever you do, do not reapply!! Reapplying will change your enrollment date!!

I cannot stress this enough.  DO NOT REAPPLY.

Seriously. Don’t reapply.

Even if your neighbor — who applied after you — gets an email notice before you, do not reapply.  Even if three of your four children are in the system, do not reapplyDoing so will change your enrollment date, and could impact your eligibility.  

Missing applications can be addressed directly with the Treasurer after all other applications have been entered into the system.

Please note, at some point soon, everyone will be required to update their accounts — even if you were previously approved. All applications, including those that have already been processed, must go through the new system’s approval procedures as part of the database update and transfer. So keep your eyes open for an email from the Treasurer.  

In a nutshell

  • Enrollment for November/December has opened.  No paper applications will be accepted.  Parents must register using the online portal.
  • Notices to updated accounts and applications will be going out to previous applicants. DO NOT REAPPLY if you do not receive a notice. Not all applications have been transferred into the new system, and notices will be generated as applications are transferred.
  • Check your Inbox and Junk email periodically for a notice from Accounts@Nevadatreasurer.net
  • Previous applicants and new enrollees will all enter the ESA system at a common portal, using the same URL or link.
  • There will be an option to choose between new applicants or return applicants. 
  • New enrollees will "add" an application for each child from one parent account.
  • New documentation will be required to be uploaded for all applicants:
  • Report cards, letter from school or attendance record to prove 100 days of enrollment if over age seven
  • Proof of income
  • Parents should mark themselves as a participating entity in order to receive reimbursements

Treasury staff extends their appreciation to everyone for their patience this past year.  If you have any problems or need assistance with this process, you can submit an inquiry “ticket” to the treasurer’s office directly from your account dashboard.  

As always, we at NevadaESA.com are also happy to answer any questions, scan your documents and help walk you through the application.  You can reach the office at 702-222-0642 or email me at kg@npri.org.

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

#LetOurChildrenSucceed

~Karen

 

In case you missed it...

Regulatory burden:

On Thursday, November 17th, the Obama Administration produced an astounding 527 pages of new rules and regulations in a single day — an all-time record. This brings the administration’s Federal Register up to 81,640 pages for 2016 — another all-time high. The previous record was also held by the Obama administration, with 81,405 pages of new regulations created in 2010. (Read more)

 

Government overreach:

A single mother of six is facing multiple criminal charges in California for selling homemade ceviche to family, friends and neighbors. Mariza Ruelas let a local food group on Facebook know she was selling or trading the Latin-American dish as a way to help her children afford basic school supplies. Often, Ruelas would exchange her homemade meals for household items and children’s clothes — other times she would simply sell the homemade food for a small profit. When her ceviche came to the attention of California investigators, however, they decided to target Ruelas with an undercover sting operation. The mother of six is now facing criminal charges, and even jail time, for “selling food without a license.” (Read more)

 

Healthcare:

Demonstrating a general dissatisfaction with Obamacare, HealthCare.gov enrollment numbers are down substantially from last year. The number of individuals who have submitted an application and selected a health care plan through the government-run website is down 33 percent since last year. Even the number of customers shopping for prices — without actually starting an application — has dropped, with unique visitors to the site down roughly 16 percent. (Read more)

 

Media bias:

According to a report by Buzzfeed — a viral gossip and tabloid-style online magazine — “fake” news gained more attention on Facebook than “real” news during the election cycle in 2016. The report caused quite a stir this week, as pundits and journalists lamented the fact that fake news stories apparently influenced voters more than actual journalism. But, there was one problem: The “report” was, itself, patently misleading and untrue. (Read more)

 

Free speech:

Students at City University of London, home to one of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious journalism schools, have voted to ban newspapers it determines to be politically incorrect. In a motion titled “opposing fascism and social divisiveness in the UK media,” the student government agreed to censor “unacceptable” journalism from the University. (Read more)

 

 

WSJ: Era of low interest rates hammers pensions

A new Wall Street Journal article, Era of Low Interest Rates Hammers Millions of Pensions Around World, documents how declining bond yields have negatively impacted pension funds globally:

Managers handling trillions of dollars in government-run pension funds never expected rates to stay this low for so long. Now, the world is starved for the safe, profitable bonds that pension funds have long needed to survive. That has pulled down investment returns and made it difficult for funds to meet mounting obligations to workers and retirees who are drawing government pensions.

...

Pension officials and government leaders are left with vexing choices. As investors, they have to stash away more than they did before or pile into riskier bets in hedge funds, private equity or commodities. Countries, states and cities must decide whether to reduce benefits for existing workers, cut back public services or raise taxes to pay for the bulging obligations.

PERS responded to this trend by moving more money into stocks. As we discussed last week, this dramatically increased the risk associated with the portfolio, which government accounting standards ignore completely.

For example, there is currently a 10 percent chance that PERS will experience an additional shortfall of at least $6.56 billion in a single year — an amount equal to nearly 65 percent of all state and local tax revenue combined.

At the very least, Nevada lawmakers should consider whether or not they are comfortable with this level of risk, and what level they would be uncomfortable with. As the Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government noted in a study earlier this year, improper accounting standards that do not account for risk "in any meaningful way" mean few policymakers have access to this vitally critical information.

Nevada lawmakers should immediately seek to obtain this information from PERS so that they, and the people they serve, can have a full accounting of the costs they are responsible for.

For NPRI’s analyses of the Nevada PERS situation, visit: http://www.npri.org/issues/detail/pers

Total Records: 2040

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