Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.
Election Day 2014 brought sweeping gains for the Nevada Republican Party, in the state legislature as well as the constitutional offices. The GOP now has a firmer grip on power in this state than at any time since before most of us were born.
While NPRI doesn’t get involved in elections, there’s no denying the significance of the Republican wins. The major political party that most closely aligns itself with the principles of limited government and free markets now has a historic opportunity to enact its agenda. It’s also significant because NPRI’s ideas — the ones you and I work so hard to advance — are positioned to receive more serious consideration than ever before.
Some of you joined me and other NPRI staff at our Reno office last night to hear a Session preview from Geoffrey Lawrence, our director of research and legislative affairs. As he explained, we will be in Carson City throughout the Session to share our ideas — all of them laid out in detail in Solutions 2015 — with policymakers.
As you can see from Solutions, we have plenty of ideas to solve Nevada’s many problems. But there are a few specific, key areas where we see a unique opportunity to shape public policy in a profoundly positive way.
One such area is education reform, where for too long bureaucrats — rather than parents — have been calling the shots on where and how Nevada students are educated. Policymakers should take bold action on school choice in order to address that problem and, while they’re at it, should also pursue alternative teacher certification and reforms that would strengthen the state’s charter-school system.
There’s also a major need for reform to state labor law, where the existing status quo has driven government costs astronomically high and has led to frequent calls for tax increases in order to pay for our growing public obligations. Policymakers can get spending under control by eliminating compulsory collective bargaining and repealing prevailing wage laws, among other things. Also, bringing transparency to the bargaining process would allow taxpayers greater oversight on the decisions regarding how exactly public money is being spent.
And let’s not forget the Nevada Public Employees’ Retirement System, which is carrying an unfunded liability that, under a fair-market valuation, exceeds $40 billion. Major structural reforms are called for here, and a great place to start would be to shift our current defined-benefits system into a hybrid defined-benefits/defined-contribution model, which has been implemented successfully in Utah.
There are lots of other policy areas where fiscal conservatives should be able to make gains, such as tax policy, health care and the state budget. And bringing more transparency to government generally would help ensure that our elected officials are held accountable to our state’s hard-working taxpayers.
We heard a lot of candidates this year run on platforms rooted in individual liberty, limited government and fiscal accountability. And Silver State voters, in numbers most of us have never seen before, handed those candidates the reins of power. Those candidates — in their capacity now as elected officials — have an opportunity to turn that talk into action.
You never know when that opportunity may come again. So, if you haven’t yet had the chance, take some time to flip through Solutions 2015 to learn more about the policy recommendations we will be communicating to legislators in the coming months and throughout the Session. And, if you’re in the Las Vegas area, be sure to join us December 10 at our open house, where Geoff will give a preview of what we can expect during the 2015 Legislative Session.
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