A History of Nevada Policy Research Institute

Advancing liberty is at the core of the Nevada Policy Research Institute’s mission and is the reason our organization exists.

In 1990, our founder, Judy Cresanta, traveled to the Soviet Union to train pro-democracy leaders in the principles of free markets and free elections. Judy saw people with no concept of personal freedoms, ownership, property rights or how market-driven economies work.

After reflecting on her visit, Judy realized that there was also a widespread misunderstanding and a deviation from those principles at home in the United States. As Ronald Reagan observed, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction … It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

Determined not to let freedom slip away here at home, Judy founded Nevada Policy in 1991 to provide freedom-friendly solutions to public problems. Judy’s exhaustive efforts laid the groundwork for the many accomplishments the Institute has had in the ensuing years and continues to have today.

Over the years, our research has been instrumental in informing citizens, the media and lawmakers about policies that increase economic opportunity and preserve the freedoms that Nevadans enjoy.

Nevada Policy has produced innovative policy solutions in many areas, including groundbreaking studies on Nevada PERS, the effect of the so-called Affordable Care Act on Nevada’s Medicaid spending, revenue-neutral tax reform, an alternative state budget, collective bargaining reforms, federal ownership of Nevada’s land, sound energy policy and school reforms, including the most expansive school choice program in the nation — known as Education Savings Accounts.

The Institute also produces a biennial publication for lawmakers called Solutions. The first edition, released in 2013, contained briefs for more than 39 policy areas. By 2017, the publication contained briefs on more than 50 policy areas.

Lawmakers often turn to Nevada Policy staff members for advice and analysis on legislation, and the Institute’s analysts and staff frequently testify before legislative committees.

News media regularly and frequently reach out to the Institute for comment on the day’s breaking news, and press outlets throughout the state cover our research, information campaigns and litigation efforts.

Coverage of Nevada Policy’s work appears in every major Nevada media outlet numerous times throughout the year, and the Institute has earned coverage from dozens of national outlets, including the Wall Street JournalNew York Times, Drudge Report, Washington ExaminerWashington Times, Politico, The Guardian, Townhall, The Hill, The BlazeLA Times, US News and World Report and Fox News.

Expanding government transparency is a major focus of the Institute, and in pursuit of that goal, Nevada Policy publishes government employee compensation and retirement data on TransparentNevada.com. Since launching in 2008, the site has earned over 21 million page views and is credited for helping uncover a major sick-leave scandal in the Clark County Fire Department. TransparentNevada’s sister site, TransparentCalifornia.com, has earned more than 98 million page views and is ranked among the top 0.001 percent most heavily trafficked websites nationwide.

Nevada Policy has also run several innovative campaigns to help public-sector workers exercise their right to opt out of union membership. Over the years, the Institute’s efforts have resulted in thousands of school district employees throughout the state opting-out of their unions.

Building off of that campaign, Nevada Policy created National Employee Freedom Week to pursue policies that prioritize the rights of workers over the preferences of politically connected unions. By 2017, NEFW grew to a coalition of more than 100 national and state-based organizations. Some coalition members include the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Buckeye Institute, and the Heritage Foundation. News outlets highlighting the campaign include the Wall Street Journal, C-SPAN, Townhall, Washington Free Press, The Blaze, The Hill, Washington Times, Washington Examiner, Forbes, Politico, Fox News and Fox Business Channel.

The battle for freedom is never finished, but as Nevada Policy has grown from one woman’s vision to the state’s leading authority on public policy and free markets, the Institute and its supporters are winning victories for freedom in Nevada and around the nation.

NPRI Presidents:

Judy M. Cresanta: 1991-2001
Helene Denney: 2001-2006
Sharon J. Rossie: 2006-2011
Andy Matthews: 2011-2015
Sharon J. Rossie: 2015-2017
John Tsarpalas: 2017-Present