Nevadans who appreciate the superiority of market-driven approaches to public policy were still optimistic at this time last year. Political leadership in Carson City appeared to have undergone a sea change in the previous general election, and the state seemed poised to at last implement numerous intelligent policy changes that had been outlined in previous editions of Solutions. To be sure, many of the proposals offered herein were, indeed, introduced as legislation, with policy experts from around the nation testifying in support.
However, the 2015 legislative session ended disappointingly, as few substantive reforms in the areas of collective bargaining, pensions, prevailing wage, health care or economic development turned out to be actual priorities of the Sandoval administration. Instead, once the administration had been reelected, it devoted most of its time and energy to saddling Nevadans with a new gross receipts tax — one remarkably similar to the 2014 ballot proposal that nearly 80 percent of Nevadans had rejected. Although NPRI had successfully led the educational campaign against that ballot proposal, once lawmakers convened in Carson City Gov. Sandoval — proposing multiple versions of the same idea — was ultimately able to push the new tax through the legislature and sign it into law.
The one outstanding achievement of the 2015 legislature was the passage of a near-universal program of education savings accounts. NPRI had introduced the idea to Nevadans when the previous edition of this text was published and today Nevada has the best program of school choice in the country. Although, the program is under attack by special interests who have sued to stop its implementation, it is the best hope many lower-income Nevada families have to provide their children with a quality education. This year’s edition of Solutions shows how popular education savings accounts have been with parents from all income brackets — and especially those with the most limited means.
If nothing else, we were reminded of the significance and influence of the ideas presented in this volume during 2015. Dozens of the proposals herein were introduced as legislation in 2015 and we fully anticipate that dozens more will be introduced in future legislative sessions. We at NPRI are thankful to our former colleague, Geoffrey Lawrence, for having brought this publication to life in its previous versions and are happy to extend and update his work. Our staff has worked tirelessly on this new and expanded volume over the past few months and I am thrilled with the result.
Once again, I hope you will consider these ideas on their merits, regardless of where your political sympathies may lie. This volume dispels many myths, presents concrete data from objective sources and provides information that everyone should find valuable, regardless of their political or philosophical persuasion. I believe it elevates the public-policy debate in the Silver State.
And that, after all, is why NPRI exists.
Sharon J. Rossie,
Nevada Policy Research Institute