In case you missed it...

 

Clark County School District

Remember 2015, when Nevada lawmakers passed the largest tax increase in state history? Remember how Carson City pols told us the money would go toward boosting education funding? Well, that was then and this is now. Clark County School District, despite all the new tax dollars it received, not only ran a deficit last year but is now asking for even more taxpayer funds. Why is the district so low on money after the massive tax increase? Turns out there are more major expenses sucking up your tax dollars. (Read more)

 

Taxes and fiscal

San Francisco seems to be determined to tax everything under the sun. In addition to a city-wide gross receipts tax, numerous sales taxes and various business taxes, one local politician is suggesting a slew of new taxes aimed at ride-sharing companies, self-driving cars and even Internet sales. This particular pol attempts to justify his tax hike by asserting such steps are required to “maintain a high quality of life and continued economic growth.” It’s an almost laughable comment, given the city’s recent role in facilitating the city’s rising homelessness rates, drug usage and excrement dotting the sidewalks. It seems unlikely regular San Francisco residents will think paying more for common 21st century technologies will somehow improve their quality of life. (Read more)

 

Employee Freedom

Public-sector unions in many states have long depended on legal coercion to maintain membership levels. Those days, however, are coming to a swift end, thanks to the recent Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. As Nevada Policy Research Institute Communications Director Michael Schaus recently told the Heartland Institute, “Every employee always had a Constitutional right to make a decision about union membership, and the Janus case makes that clear.” With National Employee Freedom Week coming up in one month, Schaus explained why employee freedom is more important than ever before in a post-Janus world. (Listen to the podcast)

 

Social media

More and more often, it seems that social-media companies are using their “community guidelines” to censor conservative and libertarian messages. Public pressure on these social media giants, however, is forcing some Silicon Valley executives to start backtracking. Facebook’s head of global policy management even went so far as to apologized to pro-Donald Trump vloggers Diamond and Silk during a congressional hearing earlier this week, saying the tech giant really “appreciates the perspective that they add to our platform.” (Read more)

 

Environmentalism

Pushing for an all-out ban on plastic straws is, apparently, the newest way for celebrities, politicians and “progressive” city councils to signal their environmental magnificence. Of course, there’s just one problem: Such a ban would do next to nothing to help curb the plastic pollutants that litter our world. Like many other items on environmentalist agendas, the ban isn’t really about protecting Mother Earth in the first place — it’s about showing that your heart bleeds for the politically correct cause du jour. (Watch the video)

 

 

In case you missed it...

 

Declaration of Independence

In the early 20th century, the “progressive” movement was in full swing. It was a movement rooted in the belief that America’s founding principles were largely standing in the way of economic and social progress. President Calvin Coolidge, however, was not among this group. Unlike the 20th century progressives that dominated the era, Coolidge understood that big-government advocates had things exactly backward. In 1926, in recognition of the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Coolidge gave a moving speech in defense of American principles, declaring, “We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them.” (Read more)

 

The American Revolution

When we talk about the American Revolution, it’s important to remember the exact reason the Founding Fathers decided to take up arms against the most powerful military of the day. After all, American colonist were taxed less and had more autonomy in their affairs than British subjects in Europe, or colonies in most of the rest of the world. The American Revolution, however, wasn’t primarily about high taxes or punitive governments. It was a rebellion against Europe’s “Old World” thinking, where blasé kings and parliaments held themselves unaccountable to the very people they governed. (Read more)

 

Labor unions

Last month, the United States Supreme Court ruled that public employees cannot be forced to financially support a union in which they don’t want membership. (Read NPRI’s press release here.) It was a major step toward at last assuring workers’ rights to decide for themselves whether or not they wish to join a union. It is not, however, going to be an easy win for workers to preserve. As we’ve already seen in Nevada — which enjoyed this right even before the Janus ruling — union leaders often make it difficult for workers to “opt-out.” (Of course, this is why NPRI runs a campaign to let teachers know they can opt out between July 1st and July 15th each year. Click here to learn more about this opt out period, and forward the link to a teacher that wants out of their union!) But some states are going even further to make sure government unions don’t have to worry about actually earning the loyalty of their members. An assemblyman in New York has promised to introduce a bill that would require local government to “reimburse” unions for workers that decide to opt out of paying dues. (Read more)

 

Free speech

The New York Times recently ran an opinion piece arguing that conservatives have “weaponized the First Amendment.” The article marks a distinct shift in the left’s attitude toward freedom of speech, as more and more “progressives” openly advocate for various forms of censorship or restriction on the speech of political opponents. Even the left-leaning justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have taken aim at the concept of free speech. Justice Elena Kagan, dissenting in the Janus case, argued that “the First Amendment was meant for better things” than protecting a worker’s right to opt out of an organization with which he disagrees politically. Writing for The Federalist, Robert Tracinski explains the progressive’s newfound disdain for free speech this way: “many of the old liberals fought for free speech largely because they wanted to protect people like them from overbearing authorities. But now people like them are the overbearing authorities.” (Read more)

 

Progressive policies

California has some beautiful and amazing cityscapes. Unfortunately, in recent years, many cities such as San Francisco have become overrun with homelessness, drugs and urban decay. The reason for the bay area’s decline is simple, according to Steven Greenhut at The American Spectator: “One of the world’s most beautiful cities has turned into a cesspool, but officials seem more interested in pursuing grandiose progressive ideals than dealing with basic civic duties.” (Read more)

 

 

In case you missed it...

Labor unions

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court handed down a massive win for employee freedom and worker rights. In a 5-4 ruling, the court ruled that union members who opt out of membership cannot be forced to continue paying fees to the union. In other words, every public sector worker in the nation now enjoys the same freedom Nevada teachers have enjoyed for years: The ability to fully opt out of union membership and keep the hard-earned money they would have otherwise spent on expensive dues. The Supreme Court’s timing is spot-on, given that July 1 through 15 is the short window of time within which Nevada teachers can reclaim significant dollars. (Indeed, teachers can click right here, during the next 14 days, to learn all about opting out.) The opt-out practice has become extremely popular among many education professionals, with over 40 percent of Clark County teachers having said “goodbye” to the union over recent years. (Read more)

 

Property taxes

In the 2017 Nevada Legislature, a bill was introduced to “reform” Nevada’s property tax structure. Of course, as is so often the case when tax-and-spend lawmakers use the word “reform,” the bill was really all about hiking property owners’ tax burden. Basically, the bill would have replaced the state’s current limits on property taxes with minimum increases. It would have revised “the formula for calculating the partial abatement so that the annual cap on increases of the property taxes on certain single-family residences and residential rental property cannot be less than 3 percent.” The bill ended up dying — but, depending on the outcome of the November elections, tax-happy politicians may try to revive the ill-advised proposal. (Read more)

 

Climate policy

It has been 30 years since a NASA scientist testified to the U.S. Congress about the looming perils of global warming — igniting a decades-long debate over environmental regulations, carbon emissions and energy production. So, how well have 30 years’ worth of climate- zealot predictions held up? The answer: Not well at all. (Read the WSJ opinion piece here.) But getting things consistently wrong for 30 years certainly hasn’t slowed down the gloom-and-doom climate alarmists. In fact, almost every metric we can see says that political agendas, not science, are increasingly driving the conversation over climate change. (Read more)

 

Privatization

The Trump Administration is ambitiously trying to restructure much of the federal government, and one specific proposal has caught the attention of libertarians: Privatizing the U.S. Postal Service. Despite the massive benefits privatization would provide, the change would be a massive political lift. Think of it: Postal unions, junk mail businesses and (of course) politicians have plenty to lose if the USPS fell into private hands. (Read more)

 

Educational choice

Opponents of educational choice often like to argue that choice programs only really help the upper-middle class and the “wealthy.” Reality, however, shows that precisely the opposite is the case. Latest official data from the Department of Education shows that Nevada’s Opportunity Scholarship program overwhelmingly helps Nevada children who, historically, have been underserved. Students receiving these scholarships are not only from low-income families, but are disproportionately from minority and other underserved communities. If Nevada is serious about making sure every student has the opportunity for a quality education, the state’s only funded educational choice program is showing us exactly how to do it. (Read more)

 

 

 

In case you missed it...

Get the inside story…

“Insubordination and bias.” That’s how Kimberley Strassel describes the Federal Bureau of Investigation during the 2016 election in her most recent Wall Street Journal column. Kimberley’s bombshell reporting over the last several months has exposed the vast abuse of power at the FBI during the 2016 election. In June, as the keynote speaker for NPRI’s Annual Celebration, Kimberley shared some of the “inside scoop” directly with the Institute’s supporters. In fact, her appearance was so insightful, and her message so powerful, NPRI has welcomed her back to speak at our Anniversary Celebration in Las Vegas on September 20th! Don’t miss the chance to hear Kimberley speak directly to us about the corruption, abuse of power and the political bias that plagues the government on all levels! Don’t miss NPRI’s Anniversary Dinner with Kimberly Strassel, this September in Las Vegas! (Click here for event details.)

Cronyism

Late last week, the Nevada’s Economic Forum was told that state revenues are more than $60 million ahead of forecasts… but most of that will disappear in the next year. The reason why is simple: Tesla has collected more transferable tax credits than expected. Officials had originally anticipated the electric car manufacturer would claim roughly $31 million in tax credits this year. Instead, the company collected more than double the amount, at $73.8 million so far this year. The credits were part of the state’s massive handout to the electric car manufacturer, and it highlights the downside of taxpayer-funded handouts. Click here to read NPRI’s 2016 explanation of how transferable tax credits harm the economy. Today, policymakers are learning this lesson the hard way. (Read more)

Education spending

Across the nation, there has been a heavy emphasis on raising teacher pay. In a number of states, unions went on strike or coordinated “sick outs,” and politicians across the ideological spectrum have responded by considering higher salaries for public educators. Unfortunately, blindly increasing wages is exactly the wrong kind of reform. Rather than throwing more money at the demonstrably broken system, policymakers need to focus on reforming it instead. (Read more)

Educational choice

Florida is adding yet another school-choice program to its already long list of parent-driven education options. In a positive development, it seems as if the controversy and political bickering has somewhat died down in the Sunshine state, and for good reason: Almost half of Florida students currently take advantage of some sort of educational choice option! Increasingly, parents, politicians and voters in Florida no longer really differentiate between “public” or “private” education—the only thing that matters, is whether or not families have access to the kind of education that fits the unique needs of their child — precisely the kind of parent-driven outcome such reforms should encourage. (Read more)

Fiscal and taxes

Just a month after implementing a $275 per-employee tax on companies with annual revenue of $20 million or more, the Seattle City Council wisely decided to walk the proposal back. On Tuesday, the council voted 7-2 to repeal the “head tax,” after more than 45,000 signatures were gathered calling for the measure to be reconsidered. The tax had been sold as a way to solve the city’s massive homelessness problem, but many of the area’s largest employers pointed out that the measure would do little more than discourage investment and hiring at a time when Seattle residents need more of both. (Read more)

 

2016 K-12 Spending Data

The U.S. Census Bureau has released new K-12 per-pupil spending data for the 2016 fiscal year, allowing for an update on our previous post which looked at state spending and education performance across the 50 states.

Our friends at the Empire Center produced an interactive chart displaying the new data here, which shows the year over year increase in each state’s per-pupil spending:

2016 Rank State 2015 2016 % Change
1 New York $21,206 $22,366 5%
2 District of Columbia $19,396 $19,159 -1%
3 Connecticut $18,377 $18,958 3%
4 New Jersey $18,235 $18,402 1%
5 Vermont $18,039 $17,873 -1%
6 Alaska $20,172 $17,510 -13%
7 Wyoming $16,055 $16,442 2%
8 Massachusetts $15,592 $15,593 0%
9 Rhode Island $15,179 $15,532 2%
10 Pennsylvania $14,717 $15,418 5%
11 New Hampshire $14,697 $15,340 4%
12 Delaware $14,120 $14,713 4%
13 Maryland $14,192 $14,206 0%
14 Illinois $13,755 $14,180 3%
15 Hawaii $12,855 $13,748 7%
16 North Dakota $13,320 $13,373 0%
17 Maine $13,257 $13,278 0%
18 Minnesota $11,949 $12,382 4%
19 Nebraska $11,946 $12,299 3%
20 Ohio $11,637 $12,102 4%
- United States $11,392 $11,762 3%
21 Michigan $11,482 $11,668 2%
22 Washington $10,735 $11,534 7%
23 California $10,467 $11,495 10%
24 Wisconsin $11,375 $11,456 1%
25 Virginia $11,237 $11,432 2%
26 Montana $11,028 $11,348 3%
27 West Virginia $11,359 $11,291 -1%
28 Iowa $10,944 $11,150 2%
29 Louisiana $11,010 $11,038 0%
30 Oregon $10,442 $10,842 4%
31 Missouri $10,147 $10,313 2%
32 South Carolina $9,953 $10,249 3%
33 Kansas $10,040 $9,960 -1%
34 Kentucky $9,630 $9,863 2%
35 Indiana $9,687 $9,856 2%
36 Arkansas $9,694 $9,846 2%
37 Georgia $9,427 $9,769 4%
38 New Mexico $9,752 $9,693 -1%
39 Colorado $9,245 $9,575 4%
40 Alabama $9,128 $9,236 1%
41 South Dakota $8,937 $9,176 3%
42 Texas $8,861 $9,016 2%
43 Nevada $8,615 $8,960 4%
44 Florida $8,881 $8,920 0%
45 Tennessee $8,726 $8,810 1%
46 North Carolina $8,687 $8,792 1%
47 Mississippi $8,456 $8,702 3%
48 Oklahoma $8,082 $8,097 0%
49 Arizona $7,489 $7,613 2%
50 Idaho $6,923 $7,157 3%
51 Utah $6,575 $6,953 6%

Because there can be a tremendous difference in the value of a dollar between states, we will use the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ 2016 Regional Price Parities (RPP) report to adjust the dollar amounts to reflect the different price levels between states.

So while New York’s actual per-pupil spending was $22,366, that falls to $19,348 (displayed in the chart below) after accounting for the state’s significantly above average price levels. Likewise, the $8,960 spent by Nevada rises to $9,199 after adjusting for the Silver State’s below average price levels.

Finally, the RPP-adjusted chart will also include each state’s 2016 K-12 Achievement score from Education Week’s Quality Counts report, which “scores states based on 18 distinct achievement measures related to reading and math performance, high school graduation rates, and the results of Advanced Placement exams.”

2016 K-12 per-pupil spending, adjusted by 2016 RPPs, alongside respective 2016 K-12 Achievement rank and score as calculated by Education Week’s Quality Counts report

State Per-Pupil Spending K-12 Achievement Rank K-12 Achievement Score Spending vs U.S. Average Achievement Score vs U.S. Average
New York $19,348 27 70.6 64% -0.4
Vermont $17,592 4 78.8 50% 7.8
Connecticut $17,441 12 73.3 48% 2.3
Wyoming $17,003 22 71.2 45% 0.2
Alaska $16,613 43 65.6 41% -5.4
District of Columbia $16,531 47 63.1 41% -7.9
New Jersey $16,256 2 81 38% 10
Pennsylvania $15,669 10 74.6 33% 3.6
Rhode Island $15,594 23 71 33% 0
Delaware $14,684 35 67.9 25% -3.1
North Dakota $14,615 34 68.1 24% -2.9
New Hampshire $14,485 3 79.4 23% 8.4
Massachusetts $14,465 1 85.2 23% 14.2
Illinois $14,338 21 71.2 22% 0.2
Nebraska $13,590 19 71.6 16% 0.6
Ohio $13,552 26 70.7 15% -0.3
Maine $13,494 15 72.4 15% 1.4
Maryland $12,974 5 76.8 10% 5.8
West Virginia $12,889 49 62.8 10% -8.2
Minnesota $12,699 6 75.9 8% 4.9
Michigan $12,506 42 65.6 6% -5.4
Iowa $12,361 29 70.3 5% -0.7
Wisconsin $12,345 9 74.6 5% 3.6
Louisiana $12,210 48 62.8 4% -8.2
Montana $12,060 28 70.5 3% -0.5
United States $11,762   71    
Hawaii $11,611 33 69 -1% -2
Missouri $11,523 36 67.6 -2% -3.4
South Carolina $11,350 46 64.4 -4% -6.6
Arkansas $11,330 40 66 -4% -5
Kentucky $11,233 16 72.3 -4% 1.3
Virginia $11,175 7 75.8 -5% 4.8
Kansas $11,006 41 66 -6% -5
Washington $10,933 14 73.2 -7% 2.2
Indiana $10,915 8 75.3 -7% 4.3
Oregon $10,864 37 66.4 -8% -4.6
Alabama $10,665 45 64.6 -9% -6.4
Georgia $10,607 20 71.2 -10% 0.2
South Dakota $10,392 44 65.2 -12% -5.8
New Mexico $10,356 50 61.8 -12% -9.2
Mississippi $10,072 51 60 -14% -11
California $10,048 30 69.3 -15% -1.7
Tennessee $9,767 17 72 -17% 1
North Carolina $9,672 32 69 -18% -2
Texas $9,304 24 70.9 -21% -0.1
Colorado $9,296 18 71.8 -21% 0.8
Nevada $9,199 38 66.2 -22% -4.8
Oklahoma $9,098 39 66.1 -23% -4.9
Florida $8,947 11 73.9 -24% 2.9
Arizona $7,938 25 70.7 -33% -0.3
Idaho $7,696 31 69.2 -35% -1.8
Utah $7,146 13 73.2 -39% 2.2

Source: 2016 Census data, adjusted by 2016 Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Regional Price Parities report, and Education Week’s 2016 Quality Counts report.

Even after adjusting for purchasing power, New York still spent 64 percent more than the national average while ranking 0.4 percentage points below the national average in achievement.

The results for Florida, by contrast, are simply stunning. Despite spending 24 percent less than the national average, Florida boasts one of the top performance rankings in the nation.

The fact that Florida has the most expansive school choice programs of any state in the nation is almost certainly a contributing factor to their success.

This is consistent with both economic theory and the majority of academic research that has found introducing competition into education will boost performance, while costing taxpayers less.

Following Florida’s lead is the most viable, cost effective and surest way to finally improve Nevada’s education system.

 

In case you missed it...

Property taxes

“Fixing” Nevada’s property tax structure is an idea that comes up every legislative session, and 2019 will likely be the same. But while Nevada’s property tax structure certainly needs revision, it’s crucial that any “fix” doesn’t increase taxes on property owners. While many politicians see you and your home as their potential ATMs, the never-ending tax-and-spend schemes they push are bringing fiscal destruction to a sad and growing list of states. Illinois is a perfect example: Today, many of its homeowners pay more per-month in taxes than they do on their home’s mortgage!  (Read more)

 

Educational choice

Despite facing a $68 million budget deficit, Clark County School District officials have managed to find money for a new administrative position. The purpose of the position? To keep students from leaving the district in favor of charter schools. Maybe, rather than “implementing a marketing plan” to keep students in underperforming schools, the district should recognize the fact that children are unique individuals with unique educational needs — not merely funding mechanisms for a broken government-school monopoly. (Read more)

 

Collective bargaining

When government employees belong to a union, they often receive a “benefit” called “union leave time.” Essentially, this is where employees are able to continue collecting their taxpayer-funded salaries while working for the unions — often lobbying for higher taxes, increased government spending and/ or additional benefits. In other words, taxpayers are made to fund union activity that is aimed at promoting larger (and more expensive) government and higher taxes on taxpayers. Last week, however, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that dramatically reduces this practice at the federal level. The order was one of many steps to curb the taxpayer subsidies these unions have enjoyed for decades. (Read more)

 

Politics

It’s easy to get fixated on national politics and overlook the impact we can have as activists in our own backyard. Often, local change is not only easier, but it can be more bipartisan as well. As Gracy Olmstead offers in a recent New York Times article, “Localism is not a perfect cure for national division, and cannot serve as a full replacement for national politics in a globalized era. But at a time in which many Americans feel disenfranchised, disillusioned and defenseless, its empowerment may act as a sort of balm.” (Read more)

 

Free speech                                                                              

On a daily basis, it seems, the very foundation of the First Amendment is under attack. From university “speech codes” to social-media censorship of supposed “hate speech,” our tradition of free speech is suffering assault at an alarming rate. However, all is not dark: the concept of truly protected free speech is something that still garners support throughout much of the rational world, regardless of political leanings. Nadine Strossen, who served as the president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) from 1991 to 2008, is a case in point. In a recent interview with the libertarian website Reason.com, she eloquently observed that the best way to fight so-called “hate speech,” is with more speech. (Watch Nadine’s interview here)

 

 

In case you missed it...

 

Common Core

Years before implementing Common Core curriculum, California was dedicated to improving K-12 math requirements. Over time, the state had managed to triple the number of eighth graders ranked proficient in math, and quadruple the number of eighth graders learning algebra. But then, in 2014, the state adopted Common Core curriculum — and almost overnight the progress that had been made in education was wiped away. (Read more)

 

Government waste

A Los Angeles firefighter, Donn Thompson, hiked his $92,000 annual salary last year by over $400,000 by, apparently, “overtime.” And it’s not the first time he’s turned such an exorbitant amount of overtime into cash. What’s worse for California taxpayers, however, is that Thompson’s cost to them will go on for years and years beyond his retirement — given the realities of current pension laws. Thompson and his habit of accumulating massive amounts of overtime, however, are not unique. For decades, firefighters have taken advantage of overtime rules to jack up their salaries and pensions. (Read more)

 

Public sector unions

The average wage for Clark County local government workers is richer than what their peers in 99 percent of counties nationwide receive, according to an NPRI analysis of the most current wage data available from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Despite receiving wages that already place SEIU Local 1107 employees in the top 1 percent of counties nationwide, the union recently rejected Clark County’s offer of a 2 percent across-the-board pay increase, demanding instead a 3.25 percent raise. “As the SEIU of Nevada has made clear,” explained Nevada Policy Research Institute Director of Transparency Research Robert Fellner, “unions in the public sector are not about eliminating any supposed imbalance that results in below-market wages. Instead, both they and the politicians who work for them profit from the constantly inflated public pay and the increased burden they impose on taxpayers.” (Read more)

 

Politics

For decades, organized labor has treated its members like ATMs for political activity — using dues to lobby and reward union-serving politicians. Since 2010, organized labor has given more than $1.3 billion to Democrat Party organizations and left-leaning nonprofits, according to a survey of federal political spending. Given that many rank-and-file union members tend to lean Republican, it’s no wonder that many workers nationwide have decided to opt out of union membership altogether. Even union leaders themselves have acknowledged that many members don’t agree with the union’s political activities. Last year, federal lawmakers introduced legislation that, among other things, would have required unions to get written permission from members before using their dues revenue for political purposes. It’s a good start toward making sure union members aren’t subsidizing political speech with which they disagree. (Read more)

 

Political correctness

It’s not just Hollywood and giant tech companies that are systematically “blacklisting” conservative or libertarian material. Even comic books are bastions of politically-correct progressivism nowadays. As Jon Del Arroz writes for The Federalist, “At one time, comics were fun and pro-America, upholding objective standards of good vs. evil. Supergirl used to fight tyrants hell-bent on world domination. Now she worries if she’s offended her non-binary friend by calling “it” by the wrong pronoun.” Just another indication why the market demand for alternatives to the obsessively politically correct is real and growing. (Read more)

 

 

In case you missed it...

Kimberly Strassel in Reno, NEXT WEEK!

Kimberley Strassel’s bombshell reporting at the Wall Street Journal has been uncovering facts that most of Big Media seems eager to ignore. Yesterday she reported Congressional revelations that the FBI and Obama Justice Department had engaged in outright spying against the 2016 Trump campaign. She’s also documented those agencies’ deliberate efforts to keep that information concealed from Congress and the country. (Click here to watch one of her latest appearances on Fox News) Kimberley does precisely what journalists should do — namely, in behalf of We the People , hold government accountable. Moreover, she’ll be in Reno, next week, to speak at the Nevada Policy Research Institute’s Annual Spring Celebration! Don’t miss this unique opportunity to hear one of the nation’s most prolific investigative journalists in person! There’s still time to RSVP for your seats! (Click here to reserve your seat!)

 

A word of warning…

As many of you know, before joining the Nevada Policy Research Institute as its president, I was a resident of the People’s Republic of Illinois. Over the years, I have seen the underfunded pension crisis grow in Illinois to unmanageable levels, and the “solutions” at this point are downright frightening. That is what this Forbes article is talking about. What this article does not say, however, is that most homeowners in Illinois face monthly property tax bills that are larger than their mortgage payments — and the state’s newest scheme to fix its pension crisis will only make this situation worse. This is just one of the many reasons I am glad to now be a Nevadan… but if we don’t act soon, this kind of out-of-control tax and spend government could easily take root here. It’s a warning that we, as freedom-loving Nevadans, need to take seriously. (Read more)

 

Judicial activism

One of the big Trump-era wins for constitutionalists has been this administration’s penchant for appointing judges who refuse to “legislate from the bench.” But proponents of a “living” constitution — that is to say, people who believe judges should use their power to subvert the constitutional process — aren’t going to take this laying down. Already, Democrats are discussing the possibility of “packing the courts” should they win the presidency in coming years. The plan is simple enough: Instead of nominating judges for existing vacancies, they would expand the number of courts and fill the new positions with “progressive” activist-judges. The plan has already been described as “a classic authoritarian maneuver used by aspiring dictators who seek to consolidate their power by dismantling democratic institutions.”… And that damning description of the plan was actually used by a supporter of the idea. (Read more)

 

State spending

The state’s “rainy day fund” is supposed to protect the state in the event of an economic downturn. The idea is that if the economy suddenly takes a turn for the worse, or some other unforeseen circumstance puts fiscal pressure on government, citizens won’t be unnecessarily burdened with higher taxes or reduced government services. It therefore seems worrisome that, despite Nevada’s massive tax increases and overall economic growth since the recession, the state’s rainy day fund remains extremely limited. As NPRI Communications Director Michael Schaus points out, the reason for this is simple: Few current politicians will promise less spending and more saving as long as they can, instead, use taxpayer dollars to reward special interests. (Read more)

 

Fiscal and taxes

Seattle homelessness has doubled in the last 8 years, as housing shortages (and climbing real estate prices) drive more and more residents into the streets. But what really caused the problem in the first place? And, more importantly, will the city’s new plan to tax large corporations for hiring workers actually do anything to fix it? In numerical order, the obvious answers are: 1) Government, and 2) No. (Watch the video)

 

Socialism

Under despotic regimes, the military is often treated as a preferred class by the ruling elite — a class that is afforded luxuries, security and comfort not available to the general public. And it’s a dynamic that makes sense, albeit in a warped way. After all, it’s the military that protects the elite rulers from the discontent of a brutalized and starving populace. Socialism, however, has a way of making conditions horrible for everyone in the long run — even the politically favored. In Venezuela, things have gotten so bad with food shortages, runaway inflation and widespread crime, that even members of the military are calling it quits. Earning a mere $2 per month, soldiers often resort to working side jobs, begging for food or turning to black market activities to survive. Sadly, however, the oil-rich country’s deeply destructive turn toward socialism continues — notwithstanding the entirely predictable tragedy looming ever-larger. (Read more)

 

 

In case you missed it...

Ed choice event

Join us after work Thursday, May 10th, for a “School Choice Happy Hour!” (We’ll even provide the beer and wine!) The event will be held in Summerlin, at Honey Salt restaurant, at 5:30 pm, with Tim Keller from the Institute for Justice giving the night’s keynote address. Tim played a critical role in defending Nevada’s educational choice options, and will be discussing what can be done to expand choice in the Silver State in the year ahead. Just give the NPRI office a call to let us know if you can make it. (View the details of the event, and how to RSVP, here)

 

Cronyism

There’s a basic rule in economics: If there’s a demand for a product or service, someone, somewhere in the private sector, will work to fulfil that need. That’s why the government-funded “Electric Highway” along Highways 95 and 93 was such a bad idea to begin with: If there was an actual market demand for electric vehicle charging stations, private investors would have stepped up to provide a solution. Instead, government subsidies are being used to build each station, at a price tag of $85,000 to $250,000 each. Despite the massive taxpayer-funded investment, drivers so far have only charged their expensive electric vehicles 274 times. No wonder no one in the private sector was rushing to risk their own money to build Nevada’s “Electric Highway.” (Read more)

 

Free market “wins”

Amid all the contemporary political bickering and District of Columbia inaction, it’s easy to feel nothing is “getting done” to promote limited government. Obamacare has still not been repealed, the federal government still resembles a quicksand-filled swamp and much of mainline news media continues to froth at the mouth. However, when you look beyond the DC swamp, libertarians and conservatives actually have a lot of reasons to feel a sense of accomplishment. (Read more)

 

Politics

Words have meanings, and those meanings are important. Or, at least, that’s how it’s supposed to be. Unfortunately, thanks to “political correctness,” many words that we use to debate important ideas and profound public policy questions are quickly losing any sort of concreate meaning. In a way, it’s nothing new. The “progressive” movement has routinely transformed or changed the meaning of words to make their ideas of collectivism more appetizing to average Americans. But things are only getting worse. As Benjamin Dierker writes in The Federalist, “We are a hair’s width and an ounce of stupidity away from ‘war is peace, freedom is slavery.’” (Read more)

 

Education

“The more teachers are absent from the classroom, the harder it is for them to connect to their students,” Michael Schaus, the communications director for Nevada Policy Research Institute, recently told 8 News Now in Las Vegas. That’s why a new report from the U.S. Education Department is so troubling: A staggering 59 percent of Clark County School District teachers were “chronically absent” during the 2015-2016 school year. As Schaus explained on NPRI.org, this is another prime example of why school choice — such as Education Savings Accounts, Opportunity Tax Scholarships and charter schools — are so popular among Nevadans. (Read more)

 

Vegas Golden Knights!

The Vegas Golden Knights have had an amazing run in their inaugural season. They have broken through countless records, winning more games than any other expansion team in the league’s history. They then went on to sweep the LA Kings in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and have now tied the current series with the San Jose Sharks. For many fans in Vegas, however, the Knights are more than just a hockey team. Since the October 1 shooting on the strip, the Knights have become a symbol for the local community’s “Vegas Strong” mentality. Moreover, the team has offered the rest of the nation a glimpse into the spirit of the people who call Las Vegas their home. (Read more)

 

Criminal Justice

Civil Asset Forfeiture is bad enough. That’s what it’s called when law enforcement seizes someone’s property, even though he or she has not been charged with any crime. Chicago, however, has now taken things even further, making it impossible for people to get their seized vehicles back from the city without paying massive impound fees — even when the owners have been proven completely innocent of any wrongdoing. The greedy scheme has bankrupted individuals, ruined livelihoods and triggered a cycle of poverty for some. Yet, the practice continues, because… well, because Chicago city government is desperate for revenue. (Read more)

 

 

In case you missed it...

Ed choice event

Join us after work on May 10th for a “School Choice Happy Hour!” The event will be held in Summerlin, at Honey Salt restaurant, at 5:30 pm — and we’re providing the beer and wine! Tim Keller, of the Institute for Justice will be the evening’s keynote speaker. Tim played a critical role in defending Nevada’s educational choice options, and will be discussing what can be done to expand choice in the Silver State in the year ahead. Just give the NPRI office a call to let us know if you can make it. (View the details of the event, and how to RSVP, here)

 

Transparency

Transparency in government leads to a government that is more accountable to the very taxpayers it ostensibly serves. Riverside Public Utilities in California, for example, didn’t previously have any systems in place to monitor overtime pay for its employees. But it does now, thanks to NPRI’s multistate transparency project. TransparentCalifornia.com — a website run by NPRI as a sister site to TransparentNevada.com — reported on overtime abuses within the department in 2017, and things immediately started to change. The utility now says it has put overtime regulations in place to help combat the abuse Transparent California exposed. (Read more)

 

Welfare

“Universal Basic Income” is a concept long championed by welfare advocates — and even a few free-market thinkers — as a more effective safety-net than the modern web of government welfare programs. The idea is simple enough: The government guarantees a minimum income amount for citizens, even if they are unable to find work or earn their own income. The Finnish government was the first European country to experiment with the idea — but it didn’t last long. Now the Finnish government says it is ending the program because the guaranteed income appears to deprive individuals of motivation to find gainful employment. (Read more)

                                                                                                                

Fiscal and taxes

Nevada’s Commerce Tax — a gross-receipts tax on businesses with more than $4 million in annual revenue — does not impact all industries equally. NPRI published an analysis of the tax last year that showed the inequality of the tax’s burden on different Nevada industries. (Read that analysis here.) Tracking down that important information wasn’t easy, given that the state tax department originally claimed it didn’t actually have the data. (Read more on that here.) NPRI’s reporting, however, has paid off in a key win for public transparency: Nevada’s Tax Department now provides an industry-specific breakdown of all Commerce Tax revenues right on its website. (Read more)

 

Culture

Increasingly, so-called progressives show serious intolerance for anyone diverging from their “politically correct” thinking ruts. This was on display again this last week, when outrage sprung up over the fact that Chick-fil-A — a company that subscribes to traditional Christian values — is doing successful business in the progressive enclave of Manhattan. (How dare it!) According to a piece written in The New Yorker, some progressives simply can’t understand why the restaurant is proving to be so popular with NYC residents. (Read more)

 

Government bias

Despite a law that prohibits the Center for Disease Control from advocating and promoting gun control, an institutional bias in the agency seems to still operate against private firearm ownership. Apparently, in the 1990s, the CDC looked at one of the most critical issues regarding the firearm debate: How often are firearms used in self-defense each year? The answer was staggering: According to the CDC’s analysis of a handful of states, Americans use guns to defend themselves, their families and their property up to 2.5 million times each year. Despite the importance of such findings, the CDC decided to keep the results hidden from the public for almost 20 years. (Read more)

 

Cronyism and protectionism

A court case that focuses on a Wisconsin butter-making rule is proving to be a great case study in the crony-serving nature of big government. In Wisconsin, before butter can be sold to the public, each batch must go through an “udderly” ridiculous grading system. According to Cato, “the criteria used to grade the butter are a ludicrous mad-lib of meaningless jargon not even the state’s experts understand.” The law purports to identify such flavor characteristics as “flat,” “ragged-boring,” and “utensil,” and requires great expense to get each batch “approved” for sale. The absurd grading scheme has done little to help the state churn out tasty butters — but it has done wonders to protect the state’s largest butter manufacturers from facing any legitimate form of competition. (Read more)

 

Total Records: 2104

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