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Act claim that up to 27 percent of the American population are in danger of losing insurance coverage if Obamacare is repealed, due to pre-existing conditions.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)



The 2016 Piggy Book is now available!


At every turn, Nevadans are now faced with threats of higher taxes, from members of both major political parties. It can be called “bipartisanship,” but increasingly it’s become a kind of bi-partisan predation on taxpayers.

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?

Therefore, the Nevada Policy Research Institute now presents the 2016 edition of The Nevada Piggy Book — an anthology of public-sector waste and abuse, illustrating the overspending and disregard for accountability that plagues governments of all levels in the Silver State.

While these stories are presented with a light touch, the reader should bear in mind that they document substantial waste, fraud and abuse —using money that would otherwise remain in the pockets of private Nevadans.

The true expense here is not the money lost from government coffers. It's the money — and thus the possibilities — taken from the economy, from small businesses and from citizens just like you.

Enjoy 2016’s Nevada Piggy Book.



Nevada’s unemployment rate normalizes to pre-recession levels

Underlying deficiencies signal labor market still less healthy than in 2007

By Daniel Honchariw

Rarely does reliance on any particular statistic tell the whole story.

Thus, the fact that Nevada’s unemployment rate has returned to pre-recession levels does not necessarily indicate the state’s labor markets are as healthy as they were in December 2007, when the Great Recession hit.

Nonetheless, the news from Nevada’s Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation — that the unemployment rate has fallen to 5.2 percent — is encouraging, given it was nearly 14 percent as recently as 2010.

Accordingly, to achieve pre-recession levels of unemployment marks a milestone for state politicians and policy-makers who have spent the better part of the last decade trying to reverse the horrors of the worst financial crisis since the 1940’s.

Governor Sandoval, speaking to the recent employment gains, boasted:

As 2016 nears an end, I’m encouraged by the significant progress our state has made as a result of our combined efforts these past six years. . . Looking forward, I’m excited about the direction that Nevada is heading and I remain committed to working with our business community to build a stronger and more resilient economy.

Despite the indicated progress, however, all is not rosy. Other important statistics show that Nevada’s labor markets remain weaker than they were in 2007.

First, of those employed, a greater proportion are now working part-time — “part-time for economic reasons,” according to the definition used by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. These are workers who, despite their best efforts, have been unable to find full-time employment.

Second, continuing a decades-long trend, the relative size of the labor force as a proportion of the state’s 16-and-over population has fallen for the last 10 years — which reduces the unemployment rate as a mathematic calculation.

Together, these problematic trends suggest that — notwithstanding considerable improvement from the darkest days of the recession — the overall health of Nevada’s labor markets still lags compared to the pre-recession era.

Part-Time Employment

Today a greater proportion of employed Nevadans are part-time workers than in 2007.

Despite those workers’ inability to acquire full-time work, they are considered “employed” for purposes of measuring unemployment.

For a broader look at overall employment, the graph below tracks the “official” unemployment rate (“U-3”) as well as two alternative measures of labor underutilization: marginally-attached workers (“U-5”) and part-time workers (“U-6”).

Here the difference between the U-5 and the U-6 lines constitutes the proportion of part-time Nevadans in the labor force who, by definition, and for the purposes of the “official” unemployment rate are nonetheless considered to be employed.

From 2007 forth, the difference (U-6 minus U-5) tends to increase over time before beginning to normalize in 2011, indicating that the proportion of part-time workers has been increasing over time.

In 2007, for example, the difference between U-5 and U-6 was 2.3 percent, which indicates 2.3 percent of the labor force, or 2.4 percent of the employed labor force[1], was employed on a part-time basis.

By contrast, in 2016 the difference between U-5 and U-6 had increased to 5.1 percent (and was as high as 7.7 percent in 2011). This indicates that 5.1 percent of the labor force, or 5.4 percent of the employed labor force[2], was comprised of part-time workers.

Thus, between 2007 and 2016 part-time workers as a proportion of the employed labor force increased from about 2.4 percent to 5.4 percent. This amounts to a proportional increase of 225 percent over that period.

Given the size of Nevada’s labor force is greater than 1.4 million, approximately 70,000 people in 2016 were employed part-time because they were unable to acquire full-time employment.

In other words, if Nevada’s part-time workers were considered to be unemployed for reporting purposes, the state’s unemployment rate would be 10.3 percent — nearly doubling the “official” rate of 5.2 percent.

Labor Force Migration

Furthering this documented trend, Nevada’s labor force participation rate (“LFPR”) has decreased considerably since 2007[3].

Because unemployment measures do not account for those who are neither employed nor actively searching for work — meaning those who are not labor-force participants — by definition the employment rate increases as the LFPR decreases.

Thus, a reduction in the relative size of the labor force typically coincides with an increase in employment (or, conversely, a decrease in unemployment4). 

This pattern is evident here, most notably from 2011 forward — based on improvement to the employment rate, the economy showed signs of rebounding from its lows, but such coincided with continued migration from the labor force.

Thus, the significant gains in employment since 2011 have been at least partially attributable to continued labor force migration, which has the effect of overstating progress made against unemployment.

What does this all mean?

While progress against unemployment since its 2010 highs has been encouraging, a more comprehensive analysis of Nevada’s labor markets suggests that much work is still to be done.

More specifically, it means that lawmakers should prioritize reforms which aim to increase private-sector job growth and remove employer-disincentives for hiring full-time workers.

At the federal level, all signs point to Obamacare — a law that actually encourages the hiring of part-time workers — as being first on the chopping-block for 2017.

Here’s to hoping that Nevada’s upcoming legislative session also produces similar job-creating reforms at the state level.

[1] 95.4 (employment rate in 2007) / 2.3 = 2.4% of employed labor force
[2] 93.8 (employment rate in 2016) / 5.1 = 5.4% of employed labor force
[3] 2016 data not yet available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
[4] Employment Rate = 1 – Unemployment Rate

In case you missed it...

Minimum wage:

The founder of a small fashion-design house and clothing manufacturer in San Fernando is getting ready to pack up and move to Las Vegas. Houman Salem explained that he loves his current location in the heart of California’s fashion district — but simply cannot tolerate the looming increase in the state’s minimum wage. “We need more stable, blue-collar jobs in places like the San Fernando Valley — the kind I thought I was helping create,” he writes. “California, however, has put up a giant ‘Go Away’ sign.” (Read more)


Health care:

Senate Republicans passed a budget resolution this week repealing portions of Obamacare. The resolution was passed using the reconciliation process, in hopes that repeal can be fast-tracked to President-elect Donald Trump’s desk once he is sworn in. The budget resolution would require $1 billion in deficit reduction over the next decade and sets aside funds for an Obamacare replacement reform. (Read more)


Federal lands:

Last week, widespread attention was given to the more than 1 million acres of western land — covering portions of Nevada and Utah — that the Obama administration unilaterally declared a national monument. Comparatively unnoticed, however, is that the administration is about to restrict a staggering 10 million acres of western land from future mining operations, claiming such steps are necessary to protect the Greater Sage-Grouse population. (Read more)


Job creation:

The most recent jobs numbers show a disturbing trend: the number of Americans not in the labor force has grown 18 percent in the last eight years — reaching a record setting number of 95 million Americans out of work in 2016. But there was another disturbing trend exposed in the most recent data: While many blue-collar industries — such as manufacturing — have been on the decline, government jobs continue to increase. State, local and federal government jobs currently outnumber manufacturing jobs by nearly 10 million. (Read more)


Nevada PERS:

Unsurprisingly, Nevada’s Public Employee Retirement System experienced another shortfall in 2016. Indeed, at nearly $13.5 billion, the shortfall was the largest ever set by PERS — adding dramatically to the system’s overall unfunded liability. Disturbingly, this massive shortfall occurred despite a record high number of contributions in the last year. As a result of these record-high costs, and ballooning debt, both taxpayers and PERS members will be net losers unless substantial changes are made to the overall system. (Read more)


PERS unfunded liability hits all-time high $13.5 billion

The Public Employees’ Retirement System of Nevada (PERS) reported a record-breaking shortfall of $13.457 billion last month, according to data published in the System’s comprehensive annual financial report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016.

Annual contributions likewise hit a record-high, coming in at around $1.7 billion. As a result of these record-high costs, most new members are now projected to be “net losers” under PERS — meaning the value of their future retirement benefit will be worth less than its total cost.

The report also confirms PERS continues to excel at keeping both administrative and investment fees low, with investment fees remaining flat since the previous year at around $39 million — or about 0.1% of total fund size.

While investing exclusively in index funds keeps fees low, there is a tremendous risk of future shortfalls given the System’s assumed 8 percent annual investment return — which far exceeds the projections of PERS investment consultants, other pension funds, Warren Buffett and many others.

2017 brought a significant personnel change to PERS. Longtime investment consultant Ken Lambert has chosen to move on, to be replaced by former president of Wilshire Consulting Julia Bonafede — who authored the second opinion review commissioned by PERS in 2015, which found that PERS was unlikely to hit its investment target over the next decade.

To read more about PERS, be sure to visit

Total Records: 2071

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