Governing Nevada

graphKey areas of focus and research at the Guinn Center are budget and fiscal policies. The budget is a state’s single most powerful decision-making tool and statement of priorities. The Guinn Center provides fact-based, independent analyses of state fiscal and tax policies and their implications for all Nevadans. We identify long-term strategies for a sound budget and strong economy. We will translate a complicated budget for the public, analyzing budget trends and options that make clear the crucial choices Nevada faces in both the short- and long-term, and promote greater transparency in the policy making process.

Areas of research include:

  • Long-term fiscal planning and performance metrics for Nevada
  • Performance of local and state governments
  • Public finance planning, revenues, and expenditures
  • Mechanisms and structures of state and local governments
  • Fiscal impacts of policies and programs
  • Institutions and policies

Policy Reports

Question 3: The Energy Choice Initiative (Voter Information Guide)

The subject of Question 3: The Energy Choice Initiative—namely the proposed restructuring of Nevada’s electricity markets—is complex. Supporters and opponents of Question 3: The Energy Choice Initiative are providing data and arguments that appear to conflict with each other. This voter information guide addresses some of the questions voters may have about this ballot measure. (July 2018)

Community Policing in Northern Nevada

Three northern Nevada law enforcement agencies – the Reno Police Department, Sparks Police, and the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office – commissioned the Guinn Center to review best practices as outlined in the Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing (2015); identify gaps in current policies and procedures within and across the three law enforcement agencies against the Task Force’s itemized best practices; and propose actions for implementation that address the gaps. Among the set of recommendations published in the Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, the Guinn Center was tasked to focus on data, hiring and recruitment, and training. This report presents a set of actionable recommendations. (April 2018)

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. (March 2018)

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. (December 2017)

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. (December 2017)

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). (June 2017)

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.

Fact Sheet on Question 1: Background Check Initiative

In November 2016, voters in Nevada were asked to approve the Background Check Initiative, a statewide question to amend an existing Nevada law. This Fact Sheet provides a summary of the primary arguments for and against the Background Check Initiative and addresses some questions voters may have.

Fact Sheet on Question 2: Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana

Voters in Nevada 2016 were asked to consider a measure to approve the regulation and taxation of recreational marijuana. This Fact Sheet presents arguments for and against the measure to Regulate and Tax Marijuana.

Fact Sheet on Question 3: Energy Choice

Question 3: The Energy Choice Initiative (ECI) is a statewide constitutional ballot initiative that was placed before Nevada’s registered voters on November 8, 2016. Question 3 seeks to amend the Nevada Constitution by adding a new section to its Declaration of Rights regarding the provision of electric utility service in the State.

Fact Sheet on Question 4: Medical Patient Tax Relief Act

This fact sheet provides information on the Medical Patient Tax Relief Act, a ballot question for the November 2016 election in Nevada.  The measure seeks to provide a sales and use tax exemption for durable medical, oxygen delivery and mobility enhancing equipment.  The fact sheet discusses the effects the initiative could have on state tax revenue, who in the state might benefit from the exemption, and how Nevada’s tax policy for these types of medical equipment compares with other states.

Fact Sheet on Clark County Question 5: Fuel Revenue Indexing (FRI)

An initiative was placed on the ballot in November 2016 (Clark County Question 5) asking Clark County registered voters if they wish to continue tying fuel taxes to the inflation rate. Fuel taxes in the County have been indexed to inflation since January 2014. This program—Fuel Revenue Indexing (FRI)—is set to expire at the end of 2016, unless voters in Clark County approve the ballot initiative.

Fact Sheet on Washoe County Question 1: Sales Tax for School Facilities

This Fact Sheet presents information about Washoe County Question 1 (WC-1), the proposed ballot initiative to increase the sales tax in order to generate revenue for the construction and maintenance of K-12 public school facilities in Washoe County. This Fact Sheet explains what will happen if Question 1 passes or fails to pass, and presents information about school facilities issues in Washoe County.

Fact Sheet on Elko County Advisory Question 1: Fuel Revenue Indexing

An initiative was placed on the ballot in November 2016 asking Elko County registered voters if they wish to tie fuel taxes to the inflation rate. This type of program is called Fuel Revenue Indexing (FRI). A “YES” vote means that FRI would be established for ten years (January 1, 2017, through December 31, 2026). A “NO” vote rejects the imposition of automatic inflation-adjusted increases to fuel taxes.

Nevada School Facilities Construction and Maintenance

Over the past two decades, Nevada has experienced tremendous population growth, which has placed tremendous demands on Nevada’s infrastructure and the capacity of our State’s public school facilities. As such, the need to construct and upgrade K-12 public school facilities has become a major issue in both urban and rural counties.

In 2015, the Nevada Legislature established the Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission (AB 421) to assess best practices in education and the fiscal management of education funding in the State. The first meeting of the SAGE Commission will address Nevada’s K-12 school facilities. The Guinn Center has prepared a report on Nevada’s K-12 school facilities in which we describe school capital facilities and maintenance needs across the State, discuss financial drivers of school construction costs, and conclude by offering a series of recommendations.

Executive Summary   Full Report

school photo

Development Incentives Revisited: A Guide for Nevada Legislators

Governor Sandoval called a special session in December 2015 to consider a development incentive package for Faraday Future, which has decided to locate in North Las Vegas. The goal of this policy brief is to (1) identify best practices for crafting development incentive programs, and (2) offer a set of recommendations for improving Nevada’s return on investment (ROI) on the proposed Faraday Future incentive package.

Faraday deal2

Full Report    Executive Summary

Major Legislation Approved During the 2015-2017 Legislative Session

During the 2015-2017 Legislative Session, 1,013 bills were proposed. At last count, 474 bills had been approved by both Houses and 433 had been signed by Governor Brian Sandoval. The Guinn Center provides a summary of the major pieces of legislation in the Guinn Center’s five research areas: (1) Governing Nevada; (2) Growing Nevada; (3) Educating Nevada; (4) A Changing Nevada; and (5) Sustaining Nevada.

Comparison of 2015 Nevada Tax Proposals

This policy brief provides a comparison of the tax plans being considered by the Legislature. Based on our analysis and interviews with tax policy experts in other states that have implemented gross receipts taxes, the Guinn Center concludes by offering a series of policy questions and recommendations for Legislators. (April 2015)

Executive Summary             Full Report

Tax Scenarios Based on Approval of SB 483 June 1, 2015

Tax Scenarios Based on AB 464 Amendment May 21, 2015

The Business License Fee: What We Still Don’t Know- Questions for Legislators

Governor Sandoval has proposed restructuring the Business License Fee to provide more funding for education. This policy brief reviews whether this proposal embraces elements of good tax policy and discusses issues that the Legislature should explore prior to adopting the proposal. (March 2015)

Executive Summary      Full Report

Tax Scenarios

Testimony during the 2015 Legislative Session

SB252: Business License Fee: Senate Committee of the Whole

SB378: Supplemental Revenue Fee: Senate Committee on Revenue and Economic Development

AB464: Assembly Committee on Taxation

Maximizing Federal Assistance

The Federal government annually distributes billions of dollars through domestic assistance grants but Nevada ranks last in the nation in federal grant expenditures per capita. (May 2015)

Testimony during the 2015 Legislative Session

SB 213: Database on Federal Grant Activity in Nevada- Senate Finance, Assembly Ways and Means

SB 214: Nevada Advisory Council on Federal Assistance- Senate Finance, Assembly Ways and Means

Examining Nevada's Education Priorities: Which Initiatives are Worth the Investment?

Governor Brian Sandoval has proposed almost two dozen initiatives to help move Nevada’s education system into the 21st Century. The Guinn Center for Policy Priorities and Nevada Succeeds have co-authored a report that reviews empirical research to analyze which of these proposals are most correlated with improved student outcomes. Based on this review, the report ranks each initiative as high, medium, or low priority. The report finds that efforts to improve education outcomes do not work in isolation and that the quality of implementation is intrinsic to success.  (February 2015)

Executive Summary        Full Report

Testimony During 2015 Legislative Session

Education Budgets: Major Education Budget Initiatives, Early Childhood Education, Education Budget Closing 

AB 339: Appointed School Boards- Assembly Education

AB 394: Reconfiguration of School Districts- Assembly Education, Assembly Ways and Means

AB 448: Achievement School District- Assembly EducationAssembly Ways and Means, Senate Education

SB 391: Read by 3-Senate Education, Senate Finance, Assembly Education

SB 405 and 430: Zoom Schools- Senate Education

SB 405: Zoom Schools- Senate Finance, Assembly Education

SB 432: Victory Schools- Senate Education, Senate Finance, Assembly Education

SB 474: Great Teaching and Leading Fund- Senate Education, Assembly Education

SB 503: Breakfast After the Bell- Senate Education, Senate Finance, Assembly Ways and Means

SB 508: Modernization of the Nevada Plan- Senate Finance, Assembly Ways and Means

Expanding Financing Options for Nevada's K-12 Facilities

School districts throughout Nevada have critical, unmet capital needs and currently have insufficient resources to fund repairs and build new schools. Existing financing tools rely largely on local funding and have not generated adequate revenue in a timely manner. In addition, the existing structure has increased disparities between school districts, given that each district has a different set of funding sources that it can use. This policy brief provides recommendations to expand the financing options available to school districts to meet capital needs. (February 2015)

Executive Summary       Full Report

Testimony During 2015 Legislative Session

AB 412: School Facilities Funding- Assembly Taxation

AB 445: Redevelopment and School Facilities- Assembly Government Affairs

SB 119: School Rollover Bonds-Senate Government Affairs, Assembly Government Affairs

SB 411: Public Schools Overcrowding and Repair Needs Committee- Senate Revenue, Assembly Taxation

Fact Sheet on Question 2: Nevada Constitutional Amendment

This fact sheet provides information on Question 2, an amendment to the Nevada Constitution, which will be considered by voters on November 4, 2014. It provides information on what will happen if the measure passes, discusses how mining is currently taxed, describes the impact of the mining industry in Nevada, and summarizes the arguments for and against Question 2. (October 2014)

Executive Summary                    Full Report

Fact Sheet on the Education Initiative: Margin Tax

This fact sheet provides information about The Education Initiative (Margin Tax), which will be considered by Nevada voters in November 2014. It analyzes the potential impact on businesses and estimates the amount of revenue the State will receive. It also summarizes the arguments for and against The Education Initiative. (February 2014)

Guinn Center Analysis of Margin Tax Estimates

This follow-on policy brief provides a detailed description of the methodology and assumptions used by the Guinn Center to arrive at the revenue estimates of the margin tax, as previously discussed in the Fact Sheet on The Education Initiative. (March 2014)

Nevada Can Improve Long Term Budget Planning

Nevada ranks 6th in the nation in the effective use of state budget-planning tools, according to a major new report, Budgeting for the Future, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a non-partisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C. Implementing these budget-planning tools would help Nevada build an attractive business climate, make government more effective, and weather difficult economic times. (February 2014)