Policy Reports

Guinn Center Research

chartThe Kenny Guinn Center for Policy Priorities is a nonprofit, independent policy research center focused on providing fact-based and well-reasoned analysis of critical policy issues that advance solutions toward a vibrant Nevada. Recognizing the time constraints of the decision makers in Nevada’s policy sphere, our analysis and information is accessible, timely, and relevant.

This page includes recent policy reports from the last six months. Archived reports are included under the issues tab.

Governing Nevada

Federal Revenue Streams in Nevada: A Data Snapshot

Nevada’s 2017-2019 biennium budget amounts to approximately $26.2 billion. Federal funds account for more than one-third  (34.3 percent) of all revenues in the biennium budget. Federal revenues also flow into Nevada’s non-profits and local and county governments. This policy brief summarizes federal revenue streams in Nevada in recent years.

Effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Nevada (Conference Report Update)

In 2017, the U.S. Congress took action to amend the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), or modify certain existing federal income tax provisions as they pertain to individuals and businesses. The bill is known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). This policy brief highlights major provisions in the congressional TCJA proposal as they relate to Nevada and to individual taxpayers only.

Proposed Congressional Tax Plans: Implications for Nevada

In 2017, the U.S. Congress took action to amend the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), or modify certain existing federal income tax provisions as they pertain to individuals and businesses. a The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on November 16, 2017, referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). On December 2, 2017, the U.S. Senate passed its version of the TCJA. As the House and Senate bills are not identical, the two pieces of legislation must be reviewed by a conference committee to reconcile the differences. This policy brief discusses major provisions in the congressional proposals as they relate to Nevada and to individual taxpayers only.

Medicaid Funding in Nevada

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) of 2017, on May 4, 2017, and the U.S. Senate released a discussion draft for its version of the bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) of 2017, on June 22, 2017; both bills seek to roll back the Medicaid expansion, amongst other provisions.

We evaluate Medicaid funding in Nevada from a budgetary standpoint, examining expenditures and revenues for the program. We conclude with an assessment of the financial implications for Nevada, should the Medicaid expansion be rolled back due to congressional decisions to revise existing provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Property Taxes in Nevada: An Overview

The Guinn Center, in conjunction with researchers from the Department of Economics in the University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Business, has published a policy report that provides an overview of property taxes in Nevada. This report addresses a set of questions that highlight the structural dimensions of the Silver State’s property tax system, examine statewide variation, and analyze possibilities for reform.


Property Taxes Executive Overview

Infographics (in English and Spanish) on Nevada’s property taxes can be found here.

Nevada Budget Overview 2017-2019

This policy brief explains Nevada’s budget process—such as the role of the Economic Forum—and provides both a broad-based overview of budgetary sources and spending and a detailed account of revenues and proposed expenditures. It closes with a discussion of some of the uncertainties confronting the State Legislature as they make budgetary decisions, particularly the status of the Medicaid expansion and that of marijuana legalization.

Infographics (in English and Spanish) on Nevada’s budget can be found here.

Roadblocks: Transportation Barriers to Community Mobility and Independence

The policy report identifies the transportation challenges or barriers faced by individuals with intellectual and/or
developmental disabilities in Nevada, and provides recommendations that may be taken under advisement by
decision makers and elected officials in the Silver State.

Educating Nevada

Closing the Gap: Strategies for Increasing Higher Education Attainment in Nevada

During the 79th Legislative Session, the Nevada Legislature passed a Nevada Promise program (Senate Bill 391), which will launch in Fall 2017. This policy report presents data on higher education attainment in Nevada, surveys the potential need for a Promise program in Nevada, reviews a selection of Promise programs around the country, summarizes recent legislation to launch a Promise program in Nevada, and describes the impact of said programs around the country.

Full Report

The Impact of School Autonomy and Skilled Leadership on Student Achievement

Researchers, education agency officials, teachers, and parents have widely acknowledged that greater autonomy at the school site can help school leadership teams, staff and educators develop and implement programs and interventions that best serve the specific needs of their students and improve education outcomes. This policy brief reviews the ways in which Nevada is looking to expand site-based school autonomy in schools, and summarizes models implemented in several states around the country.

Stepping Stones to Success: Revisiting High School Graduation Requirements in Nevada

This policy report describes the current high school graduation landscape in Nevada, including graduation rates, dropout rates, assessment data, and college remediation rates. It also compares Nevada to other states with similar population sizes and to states in the Intermountain West region. The report then identifies and discusses initiatives in other states that have strengthened college and career pathways, increasing graduation rates and bolstering postsecondary opportunities for students. The policy report concludes by offering a set of recommendations that the State’s decision makers, policy leaders, and agency officials may take under advisement.

Executive Summary Guinn Center Exec Summary

A New Nevada: Early Childhood Education and Literacy Interventions in Nevada's K-12 Public Schools

During his January 2017 State of the State address, Governor Brian Sandoval renewed his financial commitment to several programs aimed at improving educational outcomes in the Silver State: Nevada K.I.D.S. Read (formerly Read by Grade 3), Zoom Schools, Victory Schools, pre-K  programs, and kindergarten programs. In this policy brief, the Guinn Center evaluates the implementation and initial outcomes of the five early education and literacy interventions since 2015. In doing so, this policy brief will explain how these five education initiatives, for which there exists strong evidence to suggest that these initiatives – under certain conditions – are robustly correlated with improved outcomes.

Executive Summary  Guinn Center ECE Literacy Exec Summary

New Nevada Plan Under Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

The Guinn Center for Policy Priorities commends the Nevada Department of Education for the inclusive process and emerging product of the ESSA plan. We applaud the connection to the transforming Nevada economy, the measurable benchmarks and goals, the structure of the organizing principles, the demonstration of aligned assessments through the K-12 education system, the focus on equity within our system and aligned accountability and structural reforms, and the clarity offered by articulating tiers of support for persistently struggling schools. In the pages that follow, we evaluate the ESSA draft against the Guinn Center’s education policy principles.

Pathways to Nowhere: Post Secondary Transitions for Students with Disabilities in Nevada

This policy report describes existing pathways preparing students with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities for post-secondary opportunities, and identifies some of the barriers facing students as they prepare to transition to life beyond high school. This policy report concludes by offering a set of recommendations that the State’s decision makers, policy leaders, and agency officials may take under advisement.

Executive Summary

Rewarding Performance: Lessons for Nevada's K-12 System

Around the country, school districts and policy makers have attempted to address these two phenomena by using financial incentives—namely performance-based compensation plans and incentives. This policy report explores how states and school districts have implemented these financial incentive-based compensation plans, describes the current landscape in Nevada, and offers recommendations that may be taken under advisement by Nevada’s legislative leaders, policy makers, and education officials.

At the Tipping Point: Educational Outcomes of Students in Foster Care in Clark County School District

National research finds that educational outcomes for children and youth in foster care lag behind their peers. Unfortunately, the landscape in Nevada is similar. For instance, recent data shared by Clark County School District finds that graduation rates and grade point averages are significantly lower for eleventh and twelfth grade students in foster care than their peers.

In September 2014, Justice Nancy Saitta assembled the Blue Ribbon for Kids Commission to look into deficiencies in the child welfare system and courts in Clark County, Nevada, following a series of tragic events and growing public concern. The following year, the Commission established a Public Education Subcommittee to address the challenges faced by students in foster care, particularly high school students. This policy brief evaluates educational outcomes for high school students in care in Clark County School District, and offers several policy recommendations that may be taken under advisement by Nevada’s leaders.

The Costs of Instruction in Nevada's K-12 Public Education System

In Fiscal Year 2015, personnel costs accounted for 80 percent of Nevada’s $4.1 billion education budget. The policy report discusses instruction-related costs in Nevada, trends over time, and some of the drivers of personnel costs. It concludes by offering a series of recommendations for Nevada’s policy makers.

Pupil and teacher

Full Report

Executive Summary

Growing Nevada

Development Incentives: A Guide for Nevada Legislators

Nevada licenseAs the Nevada Legislature considers a $1.3 billion incentive package for Tesla Motors, the Guinn Center for Policy Priorities recommends that legislators consider best practices learned in other states that emphasize transparency, accountability, performance, local hiring, and job training. The Guinn Center also examines the impact of the proposal on local governments and the ability to provide expanded public services. (September 2014)

Executive Summary                  Full Report

A Changing Nevada

Mental Health Governance: A Review of State Models and Guide for Nevada Decision Makers

Red Nevada HealthNevada is considering moving from a centrally controlled mental health system to one that is more responsive to local community needs. This report provides guiding principles for a quality governance system, presents a comparative analysis of models in seven states, and outlines decision points that will need to be considered by the Nevada Behavioral Health and Wellness Council and State Legislature. (December 2014)

Executive Summary                   Full Report

Sustaining Nevada

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