Guinn Center Report Finds that Nevada Continues to Underperform in Federal Grants Receipts, Ranks 45th in the Nation in 2020

March 14, 2021 -

LAS VEGAS — Despite efforts to improve Nevada’s historical underperformance in federal grants receipts, the state continues to trail its peers, according to a new Guinn Center report released today. It finds that total federal grant money awarded to Nevada increased more than fourfold in real dollars between federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2008 and FFY 2020 but that the growth is most likely attributable to increased overall federal grant spending nationally.

Total federal grants per capita in Nevada amounted to $2,296 in FFY 2020, for a ranking of 45th in the nation, the report shows. That is 28.9 percent lower than the U.S. average of $3,070 and 25.8 percent lower than the median state, Intermountain West neighbor Arizona, which ranked 26th with a total federal grants per capita amount of $2,975.

Amidst pandemic-induced budgetary constraints, which include an approximately two percent reduction in State General Fund expenditures in the upcoming biennium, prospects for the State’s commitment to improvement in federal grants performance in Nevada have been renewed. These include: (1) Governor Steve Sisolak’s objective to increase Nevada’s federal grant share by $100 million over the next two years and by $500 million annually by 2026; (2) and Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno’s announcement that she would introduce a bill in the 81st (2021) Legislative Session to establish a cabinet-level office designed to secure federal dollars.

The Guinn Center previously evaluated federal grant competitiveness in a data essay published in 2018. In the intervening years, Nevada has committed resources to capacity building, and stakeholders have worked collaboratively to improve the State’s performance. Given the prospect of legislation in the 81st (2021) Legislative Session and the governor’s pledge to increase federal funding, the Guinn Center has sought to provide an update to the data and new evaluation in this report.

The report is available here.


USDA Grant Awarded to the Nevada Public Health Training Center and the Guinn Center to Promote Health Care in Rural Communities

February 19, 2021 -

RENO and LAS VEGAS — The Nevada Public Health Training Center (NVPHTC), in partnership with the Guinn Center, has received a $388,964 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through the Rural Health and Safety Education (RHSE) Competitive Grants Program. The grant addresses the needs of rural Americans by supporting utilization of telehealth, telemedicine, and distance learning strategies for education and training in minority rural communities related to opioids or preventing spread of SARS-CoV-2 (novel coronavirus) and in mitigating infection and transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

The “Western Collaborative Rural Health Promotion Project” seeks to prevent and reduce opioid/substance misuse and abuse and prevent and mitigate the infection and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through distance-learning strategies targeted toward community leaders for education in a diverse cross-section of targeted rural communities in Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. The NVPHTC and the Guinn Center anticipate that the program, which is designed to be delivered through a “health equity lens,” will be effective at influencing impactful change at the rural community level, especially when it comes to preventing opioid misuse/abuse and transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

NVPHTC will manage the curriculum development, online training and web portal, program implementation, and provide technical assistance. The Guinn Center will manage monitoring and evaluation, and provide policy recommendations.

Key staff include the following: at NVPHTC, Director Gerold Dermid, MBA, is the project director, and Sara Hanafi, MPH, and Kelly Morning, MPH, are co-project directors. For the Guinn Center, consultants are Executive Director, Nancy Brune, PhD, and Director of Economic Policy, Meredith Levine, MA.


The Nevada Public Health Training Center (NVPHTC) is part of the Western Region Public Health Training Center and is housed within the School of Community Health Sciences at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). The NVPHTC amplifies the public health workforce through innovative research and skill-based education.

The Guinn Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan, independent policy center that seeks to advance evidence-based policy solutions for Nevada through research, public engagement, and partnerships.

New Guinn Center Policy Brief Details Revenue Limits in Nevada’s Property Tax System

September 25, 2020 -

LAS VEGAS — The Guinn Center today released a new policy brief titled “Revisiting Property Taxes in Nevada: A Comparative Analysis.” It finds that property taxes are a comparatively limited revenue source for Nevada, which may be attributed to revenue limits embedded throughout the state’s property tax system.

The analysis shows that property tax revenue per capita in Nevada is $1,041, for a ranking of 40th in the nation. It also finds that Nevada is ranked 43rd on contribution of property taxes to total state and local government tax revenue (22.4 percent).

“Property taxes have taken on an increased relevance of late, as some members of the Commission on School Funding have raised the possibility of increases for education revenues,” stated Guinn Center Director of Education Policy, Kenny Retzl, Ph.D. “As the 81st Legislative Session approaches in the context of pandemic-strained resources, the question of changes to revenue limitations may be taken under consideration; this brief is intended to decision makers with comparative analysis, legislative background, and a compendium of authorities on revenue limits to help inform decision making,” said Meredith Levine, Director of Economic Policy for the Guinn Center.

The policy brief also assesses the role of property taxes in the General Funds of states that, like Nevada, do not collect individual income taxes. With the exception of Alaska, which has a small property tax contribution to its General Fund, none of the states use property taxes to strengthen state-level budgets for the purpose of unrestricted operating expenses. This analysis reveals that Nevada and its peer states are heavily dependent on revenue sources that turn on economic conditions, leaving them vulnerable to budgetary shortfalls during economic crises.

The report is available here, and infographics may be accessed here.


Walmart Foundation $300,000 grant aims to help reduce racial and ethnic disparities in disaster preparedness and recovery

September 14, 2020 -

LAS VEGAS/PHOENIX – The Walmart Foundation has granted $300,000 to the Guinn Center for Policy Priorities and Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy to research how well existing disaster management and planning systems in Nevada and Arizona are serving Latinos and Native Americans living in urban areas.

“The ultimate goal of this research is to identify ways to strengthen the preparedness of urban Latino and Native American communities for biological and environmental disasters,” said Alison Cook-Davis, Morrison Institute’s associate director for research. “Existing research shows that disaster preparedness and response planning efforts often do not include representation from communities of color.”

The research will be conducted over nine months from September 2020 through May 2021 and will include extensive engagement with Latinos and Native Americans living in urban areas of Nevada and Arizona. Grant funds will be used to support research, focus groups, and public engagement activities.

“The pandemic has shined a light on just how unprepared some communities are to support vulnerable populations during a crisis or disaster,” said Qadira Harris, senior manager, Community Disaster Response and Preparedness for “By funding research that examines Covid-19’s impact on communities of color, the Walmart Foundation hopes the key learnings will empower communities to affect change and seek to improve the systems we all rely on to prepare for and respond to future disasters.”

“Our disaster response systems are too rarely examined from an overall systems perspective and in coordination with housing and public health stakeholders,” said Nancy Brune, executive director of the Guinn Center. “It’s not a coincidence that urban communities of color are disproportionately affected by climate change and have been more susceptible to COVID-19. Our community-engaged research framework will help draw the connections across the range of systems that are critical to overall efforts to strengthen preparedness in these communities.”

The Guinn Center and Morrison Institute will launch the project by assembling advisory panels in each state that will help guide and inform community outreach and engagement.

About the Guinn Center for Policy Priorities

The Kenny Guinn Center for Policy Priorities is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy center that seeks to advance evidence-based policy solutions through data-driven research, public engagement, and strategic partnerships. To learn more, visit

About Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy

Since 1982, Morrison Institute for Public Policy has used nonpartisan research and analysis to examine critical state and regional issues. A resource of Arizona State University’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, Morrison Institute’s research is a catalyst for public dialogue and aims to help improve the quality of life in Arizona. To learn more, visit

About Philanthropy at Walmart represents the philanthropic efforts of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation. By leaning in where our business has unique strengths, we work to tackle key social issues and collaborate with others to spark long-lasting systemic change. Walmart has stores in 27 countries, employing more than 2 million associates and doing business with thousands of suppliers who, in turn, employ millions of people. is helping people live better by supporting programs that work to accelerate upward job mobility for frontline workers, address hunger and make healthier, more sustainably grown food a reality, and build strong communities where Walmart operates. To learn more, visit or find us on Twitter @walmartorg.


New Guinn Center Policy Report Shows Home Care Workers Face Several Workplace Challenges

September 4, 2020 -

LAS VEGAS — The Guinn Center today released a new policy report that identifies challenges faced by Nevada’s personal care aides in home-based care settings. “Helping Hands: An Assessment of the Personal Care Aide Workforce in Nevada” finds that personal care aides are disproportionately women of color who earn an annual median wage of $23,020, well below the cost of living in most parts of Nevada.

Medicaid is the primary public payer for long-term care services. Its reimbursement rates set the ceiling for what personal care aides are paid, ultimately depressing wages even for those working in the private pay market, the report finds. Budget cuts to address a $1.2 billion shortfall for State Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 resulted in a Medicaid personal care services reimbursement rate decrease from $17.00 per hour to $16.52 per hour as of August 2020. This is the lowest personal care aide provider reimbursement rate established in roughly 17 years.

“Personal care aides are frontline, essential workers who provide the necessary supports that allow seniors and individuals with disabilities to avoid long-term care settings,” stated Guinn Center Director of Economic Policy, Meredith A. Levine. “As long-term care facilities have been devastated by COVID-19, the pandemic has underscored the value of personal care aides and the crucial role they play in helping vulnerable people remain in the comfort and privacy of their homes.”

Personal care services will be the fourth most in-demand job sector nationwide as of 2028. With a projected 163.0 percent increase in Nevada’s population aged 65 years and older between 2010 and 2040, Nevada would need to add more than 10,000 personal care aides to its workforce by 2040 to meet demand, the report estimates. But flat wages, income insecurity, and irregular hours, which lead to high turnover in the workforce, are likely to produce a shortfall of workers. The report shows that a “care gap” may be emerging, whereby demand for services could outstrip supply over the long term in Nevada.

The executive summary can be found here. 


Guinn Center Examines Rural Education in Nevada

August 28, 2020 -

The Guinn Center today released a new policy report that examines the state of rural education in Nevada. The report, Rural Education in Nevada, presents the following findings:

  • Demographically, rural districts vary significantly from urban districts. The percentage of students that qualify for free-and-reduced price lunch (FRL), which is used as a proxy for poverty, is approximately 13 percentage points lower in rural areas. Rural school districts serve a smaller percentage of English Language Learners (ELLs) but a greater percentage of students with an Individual Education Program (IEP), which is the designation for special education.
  • Rural students in grades 3 through 8 have lower proficiency scores than their urban counterparts on the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC). This finding holds across every grade and each testing area (e.g., ELA and mathematics).
  • Rural students report slightly higher average ACT composite scores, graduation rates, and percentage of students receiving an Advanced Diploma.
  • Like many other states, Nevada provides additional funding to rural school districts to cover increased transportation costs and high fixed costs. However, the system that currently funds K-12 education – the Nevada Plan – was replaced during the 80th (2019) Session of the Nevada Legislature with the Pupil-Centered Funding Plan, the implementation of which is scheduled to commence with the 2021-2022 school year. The new funding plan provides student weights for ELLs, students with an IEP, students deemed to be “at-risk,” and gifted and talented (GATE) students.
  • Without an infusion of additional money, under the proposed new Pupil-Centered Funding Plan only four school districts in Nevada are expected to realize an increase in funding: Clark, Mineral, and Washoe County School Districts, as well as the State Public Charter School Authority (SPCSA). While the Commission on School Funding is still finalizing the model, the Pupil-Centered Funding Plan is expected to adversely affect rural school districts more than urban ones, based on preliminary data presented at the time Senate Bill 543 was introduced.
  • The Pupil-Centered Funding Plan includes weighted funding for students categorized as “at-risk.” Historically, this has been conceptualized by districts across the country as students that qualify for free-or-reduced price lunch (FRL). While FRL status is widely used by states and districts, it is likely not an adequate or fair conception of “at-risk.” By way of example, current data indicates the poverty rates in urban and rural countries in Nevada are nearly identical; however, the proportion of students receiving free-or-reduced price lunch in rural school districts is approximately 13 percentage points less than in urban school districts. The discrepancy between rural county level and rural school district poverty rates suggests that using FRL rates as the sole indicator of “risk” undercounts poverty (and need) in rural school districts in Nevada.

The full report is available at the Guinn Center website here.


Guinn Center Awarded Community Voices for Health Grant

May 21, 2020 -

Las Vegas, NV – The Guinn Center announced it has received $660,000 through Community Voices for Health (CVH), an initiative led by Public Agenda and Altarum, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The funding will support the Guinn Center project, “Building Blocks: Building Youth Engagement Infrastructure and Capacity in Nevada.”

The Community Voices for Health initiative provides financial support and technical assistance to improve local healthcare systems and increase engagement between policymakers and community members, with an emphasis on giving a voice to marginalized and underserved communities.

“The current coronavirus pandemic has both revealed and exacerbated the underlying conditions and basic needs in our community,” stated Nancy Brune, executive director of the Guinn Center. “Community members are desperately seeking services – like housing and health care – that were already limited and insufficient prior to the pandemic. This project is even more important and timely given the devastating economic crisis our agencies and leaders are managing.”

While addressing these challenges, this grant seeks to strengthen our civic engagement infrastructure and capacity and:

  • Connect existing youth programs and service providers in Nevada and establish a formal network of youth leaders and advocates;
  • Build stronger connections between service providers and youth end-users to improve specific health outcomes: (1) Decrease teen homelessness; (2) Decrease teen suicide; (3) Increase access to mental health services; and (4) Decrease the rate of uninsured youth;
  • Build youth leadership and advocacy capacity; and
  • Strengthen youth representation on existing public and private boards and projects, especially those that are related to health and/or social determinants of health.

The work of the initiative will be carried out in partnership with Public Agenda, a non-partisan research and public engagement organization, and Altarum, both of which will provide technical expertise to leverage the local impact of the grant support.

The “Building Blocks: Building Youth Engagement Infrastructure and Capacity in Nevada” will be executed in partnership with Clark County Department of Social Service and more than three dozen organizations around the State, including the Washoe County Health District, St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, Youth Adults in Charge, and the Family Support Center. “This award both recognizes the collaborative work that Nevada has undertaken to improve our health care infrastructure and acknowledges the tremendous need in our community to expand capacity,” stated Brune.

The Community Voices for Health initiative will make available up to $3.96 million in funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with each of the six state organizations receiving over $600,000 for the span of the 30-month-long initiative.


Guinn Center Chronicles Impacts of COVID-19 in Nevada

April 8, 2020 -

LAS VEGAS — The Guinn Center recently has released a series of reports, policy briefs, and infographics that address various dimensions of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Nevada.

“As Nevadans grapple with so much uncertainty surrounding coronavirus, the Guinn Center is committed to providing authoritative, evidence-based resources that shed light on the issues that are affecting our community,” stated Guinn Center Executive Director, Nancy E. Brune, Ph.D.

The Guinn Center’s recent work is detailed below and annotated for convenience:

What the CARES Act Means for Nevada’s Families and Businesses: In March 2020, the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted into law in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this policy brief, the Guinn Center provide a summary of the key provisions of the CARES Act for individuals, families, and businesses. A summary of the CARES Act in Spanish is available here.

Nevada’s Digital Divide: In order to continue educating Nevada’s approximately 500,000 students amid the current COVID-19 pandemic, Nevada’s K-12 public schools have shifted to virtual education. The Guinn Center analyzed data from the 2014-2018 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS).  This data provides useful information about the digital divide in Nevada, and the geographic areas where the digital divide is more prevalent. Infographics can be accessed here in English and here in Spanish.

Capacity and Financing for Public Health Emergencies in Nevada: The scale of the novel coronavirus, and its associated disease, COVID-19, is yet unknown in Nevada as cases continue to arise. In this policy brief, the Guinn Center presents a snapshot of the current health care system capacity and then more closely examine budgetary resources available to Nevada for public health emergencies. Infographics can be accessed here in English and Spanish.

The Proposed Budget Reserves Process for State Funding in Nevada: In response to the economic impact of COVID-19 on Nevada’s budget, Governor Steve Sisolak sent a memo in April 2020 to State agencies noting that he is examining the necessity of recommending budget reserves. The Guinn Center evaluates budget reserve targets and the implications for State funding in the current biennium (FY 2020-FY 2021).

 COVID-19 and Small Businesses in Nevada: This policy brief examines the impact of previous economic downturns on small businesses in Nevada, using the Great Recession as a case study for what impact the COVID-19 pandemic might have on the Silver State’s economy and overall employment trends. Experience suggests that while Nevada’s economy is resilient, Nevada’s small businesses in certain sectors may suffer from short-term job losses.

COVID-19 Affects Housing Security in Nevada: In this policy brief, the Guinn Center notes that COVID-19 has forced businesses and nonprofits to lay-off employees. Now, with reduced income – or no income at all – housing may become unaffordable for many Nevadans, placing them at an increased risk of eviction. Many federal, state, and local decision-makers have discussed the implications of COVID-19 on housing stability, resulting in a patchwork response to this problem across the country.

Nevada’s Personal Care Aide Workforce: Health care workers are among those on the front lines of response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among this group of workers, personal care aides are among those most vulnerable to risk of exposure. This infographic in English and Spanish provides some data on the personal care aide workforce in Nevada.

Nevada Budget Overview 2019-2021: 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 in the Governor’s Recommended Budget and a detailed account of revenues and proposed expenditures. Infographics can be accessed here. Updated General Fund appropriations are available here.

Nevada’s Uninsured Population: This report examines Nevada’s uninsured population. Its objective is to furnish a composite of Nevada’s uninsured population so that stakeholders have the requisite data to develop a set of policy prescriptions and enhance administrative capacity in service of health insurance coverage expansion, given the consequences of uninsurance. These consequences include: limited access to health care, adverse health outcomes, medical debt, economic losses, and burdens on governmental financial resources. Infographics can be accessed here.

Paid Sick Leave in Nevada: In 2019, Nevada enacted Senate Bill (SB) 312, which went into effect on January 1, 2020. The legislation requires private employers with 50 or more employees to provide paid leave to all scheduled employees at a rate of at least 0.01923 hours of paid leave per hour of work performed. This policy brief examines the impact of paid sick leave legislation in Nevada.


Guinn Center Releases New Report on Virtual Charter Schools in Nevada

April 3, 2019 -

Las Vegas, NV – The Guinn Center released its new report, Nevada’s Virtual Charter Schools: Student Achievement and School Performance within the Current Accountability Framework, which discusses the performance of virtual charter schools in Nevada and compares the performance to state and district averages.

Charter schools are public schools that are independently run and receive greater flexibility over operations and management in exchange for increased performance accountability. These schools may operate like traditional public schools with their own buildings and campuses (referred to as “brick-and-mortar” schools). Some may only offer remote online instruction (“virtual charter schools”), and still others may provide some combination of remote and in-class instruction (‘blended” or “hybrid” charter schools). Data indicates that virtual public charter schools are an important educational option for many students and families in Nevada, but enrollment in these schools remains relatively limited. In Nevada, 1.2 percent of students, or 5,712 students out of the total K-12 enrollment of 485,768, were enrolled in virtual charter schools during the 2017-2018 school year.

Recently, virtual charter schools around the country have faced increased public and legislative scrutiny, largely due to low academic performance, particularly when compared to other schools. This report evaluates the performance of virtual charter schools in Nevada and provides recommendations that policy makers should take under advisement when addressing student outcomes and achievement.

The report, which was authored by Kenneth J. Retzl, Ph.D., Director of Education Policy, can be found here.