During what is being called Nevada’s economic “recovery,” the Silver State’s economy has grown more slowly than that of any state west of Missouri, with the exception of Alaska.
That’s a far cry from what was normal for the state in the decades before the Great Recession.
To date, entrenched special interests have led the fight against the types of transformational policy changes that would catapult the state into the forefront of those offering the greatest opportunities to their citizens.
To be sure, lawmakers took welcome steps in 2011 toward implementing performance-based budgeting. In 2013, however, politicians made new commitments handily outpacing revenue growth — expanding both Medicaid eligibility and ineffective educational programs. Public liabilities for unsustainable pensions and other benefits continue to accumulate and are pushing major municipalities to the brink of insolvency.
On the education front, Nevada parents have limited options, and this lack of options forces most parents to enroll their children in a failing monopoly that allocates money poorly and produces some of the worst graduation rates in the nation. Initial momentum in 2011 to free up charter schools and create a meaningful evaluation system for teachers has stalled as a powerful lobby for the status quo has fought back every subsequent attempt at reform.
We Nevadans cannot afford to see our fledgling recovery undone. Lawmakers must create the policy environment that will facilitate educational achievement and economic growth for generations to come.
To that end, I am proud to present Solutions 2015, a book of research and policy recommendations that, if enacted, would accomplish those objectives.
Building and expanding upon Solutions 2013, NPRI’s director of research and Solutions 2015 author Geoffrey Lawrence has spent hundreds of hours digging through budget documents, academic studies and best practices from other states. His concise summaries of over 50 issue areas provide lawmakers with needed information and recommendations in an easy-to-use reference format.
Regardless of where your political sympathies are, I hope you will consider these ideas and this research on their merits. I know this book will be useful to all as a sourcebook of information.
We all look forward to a future in which more and more individuals will choose to say, as in the state song, “Home means Nevada to me.”
Nevada Policy Research Institute