Legislative Report Card Online

Geoffrey Lawrence

Among the many highlights at NPRI’s highly successful anniversary dinner last week, the Institute formally released a Review and Report Card of the 2009 Legislative Session. For those who were unable to keep up with the daily musings occurring in Carson City from February through June (as well as for those who did), the publication will serve as a handy reference. It recounts the events of the session while highlighting the major debates that occurred among and between specific legislators with regard to tax and spending issues.

In addition, the publication includes a grading of individual state legislators based on their voting records. The grading is based on the methodology used by the National Taxpayers Union for grading congressmen and is widely considered the “gold standard” for grading legislative performance according to taxpayer interests. It allows for votes to be weighted according to the proportional impact of all fiscally relevant bills and examines proposals for both new spending and new taxes to account for both sides of the ledger.

The report card reveals several underlying dynamics within the legislature. First, only 11 legislators received grades above 50 percent, meaning that they can be considered “friends” to the taxpayer. Topping the 52 legislators who received scores below 50 percent was Assemblywoman Melissa Woodbury, who received a score of 38.04 percent. The lowest score was achieved by Senator Bob Coffin at 16.43 percent. Despite these scores, legislators such as Assemblymen Ed Goedhart and Don Gustavson, who both scored in the mid-90s, demonstrated that, despite the current economic recession, it was possible to achieve very high scores.

The report card further reveals that the ideological divide among state legislators goes much deeper than simple party affiliation. For example, the party leadership for both Republicans and Democrats all scored under 50 percent, meaning they were generally adversaries to the taxpayer. In the Senate, Majority Leader Steven Horsford and Minority Leader Bill Raggio were virtually indistinguishable, receiving scores about 2 percentage points apart.

The report is available online as a PDF. In addition, a spreadsheet is available that indicates the specific bills included for the grading and the respective weights assigned to them.

Geoffrey Lawrence

Geoffrey Lawrence

Director of Research

Geoffrey Lawrence is director of research at Nevada Policy.

Lawrence has broad experience as a financial executive in the public and private sectors and as a think tank analyst. Lawrence has been Chief Financial Officer of several growth-stage and publicly traded manufacturing companies and managed all financial reporting, internal control, and external compliance efforts with regulatory agencies including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  Lawrence has also served as the senior appointee to the Nevada State Controller’s Office, where he oversaw the state’s external financial reporting, covering nearly $10 billion in annual transactions. During each year of Lawrence’s tenure, the state received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Award from the Government Finance Officers’ Association.

From 2008 to 2014, Lawrence was director of research and legislative affairs at Nevada Policy and helped the institute develop its platform of ideas to advance and defend a free society.  Lawrence has also written for the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, with particular expertise in state budgets and labor economics.  He was delighted at the opportunity to return to Nevada Policy in 2022 while concurrently serving as research director at the Reason Foundation.

Lawrence holds an M.A. in international economics from American University in Washington, D.C., an M.S. and a B.S. in accounting from Western Governors University, and a B.A. in international relations from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  He lives in Las Vegas with his beautiful wife, Jenna, and their two kids, Carson Hayek and Sage Aynne.