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 published within the 6-12 months.  Archived reports are included under the issues tab.

Governing Nevada

Federal Grants Performance in Nevada

Nevada continues to be ranked among the lowest states in the nation in receiving federal grants, which are a key source of funding for health care, education, social services, and infrastructure, according to a new Guinn Center report released today. It finds total federal grants per capita in Nevada amounted to $2,296 in federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2020, for a ranking of 45th in the nation. 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.

Revisiting Property Taxes in Nevada

This policy brief begins with a brief overview of the relationship between property taxes and K-12 Education Funding. The report examines structural characteristics of Nevada’s property tax system that limit revenues. The policy brief concludes with a discussion of recent efforts to effect legislative change in Nevada, summarizes recent property tax legislation and proposals in other states, and compiles the statutory and constitutional authorities pertaining to Nevada’s property tax revenue limits in an accessible table.

Property Tax 2-pager: Guinn Center Property Taxes Two-Pager 

A Summary of State Programs to Use CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF)

In March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted into law in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At $2 trillion, it is one of the largest relief packages in U.S. history. Included in the act is an estimated $560 billion for individuals, $500 billion for large corporations, $377 billion for small businesses, $340 billion in support for State and Local Governments, and $154 billion for Public Health.  Specifically, Title V of the CARES Act established the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), which provides financial relief to states, tribes, and local governments for the increased costs associated with the COVID-19 public health emergency. Per Title V, Nevada received over $1.25 billion allocated in the following manner:  $836 million to the State of Nevada; $295 million to Clark County, and $119 million to the City of Las Vegas. Recently, Governor Sisolak announced the distribution of $148 million to northern Nevada and rural counties, leaving a total of $688 million that must be disbursed and expended by December 31, 2020. This brief summarizes some of the programs other states have launched using CRF funds. 

COVID-19 and Eviction Risk in Nevada

In response to the economic impacts of COVID-19, Governor Sisolak issued an evictions moratorium, which is scheduled to expire August 31, 2020. The Guinn Center partnered with the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project (CEDP) to project the potential increase in evictions following the expiration of the current state moratorium.

Alcohol Taxes in Nevada

This policy brief examines alcohol taxes in Nevada over time. 

Nevada Property Taxes 101

This two page brief summarizes property taxes in Nevada and compares Nevada’s property tax rates to other states.

How Dependent Is Nevada on Sales and Use Taxes?

This policy brief summarizes the contribution of sales tax to Nevada’s overall revenue collections. 

COVID-19 and the Impact of Recession on the Economy and Housing in Nevada

This policy brief examines the impact of recessions on the economy, broadly speaking, and on housing more specifically. By looking at metrics for Nevada following 9/11 and the 2007-2009 recession, or the Great Recession, we hope to provide insight into the potential effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. 

An Analysis of the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program Loan Information

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 has offered significant assistance to small businesses and nonprofits. Included in the federal aid package was $349 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was earmarked for loans to small businesses to cover costs associated with maintaining their workforce. As of April 16, 2020, the funds set aside to support small businesses through the PPP were exhausted. In this policy brief, the Guinn Center team reviews the PPP Loan data and compares Nevada to other states. 

Following the conclusion of Round 2 of PPP funding, the Guinn Center summarized Round 1 and Round 2 of funding in this policy brief. See here: Guinn Center PPP Loan Analysis R2 May 2020

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 actual state revenue will not meet previous projected revenue projections and that he is examining the necessity of recommending budget reserves. In practice, these budget reserves are recommended budget cuts to General Fund appropriations for departments. Departments must meet certain targets, though these are subject to change as the economy recovers. The budget reserves that each department must meet are up to four percent for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 and from six percent to fourteen percent for FY 2021. The Governor’s Finance Office prepared a spreadsheet that itemizes, by agency, division, and/or budget account (e.g., programs, salaries), General Fund appropriations for each fiscal year and budget cut amounts at each potential budget cut point. Using data contained in the spreadsheet, we evaluate the budget reserve targets and the implications for State funding in the current biennium (FY 2020-FY 2021).

What the CARES Act Means for Nevada’s Families and Businesses

In March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted into law in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At $2 trillion, it is one of the largest relief packages in U.S. history. It aims to shore up the economy and provide relief to families facing economic hardship due to the downturn caused by the pandemic. Included in the act is an estimated $560 billion for individuals, $500 billion for large corporations, $377 billion for small businesses, $340 billion in support for State and Local Governments, and $154 billion for Public Health. In this policy brief, we provide a summary of the key provisions of the CARES Act for individuals, families, and businesses. 

See here for document in Spanish. Guinn Center CARES ACT Summary April 2020 (Spanish)

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 our latest policy brief, we note 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. 

Dedicated Funding Streams to K-12 Education: The State Education Fund

The Nevada Plan, the Silver State’s mechanism for funding education since 1967, was replaced during the 80th (2019) Legislative Session by Senate Bill (SB) 543 with the Pupil-Centered Funding Plan. It will be implemented beginning with the 2021-2023 biennium. While one purpose of the new funding plan is to differentiate per-pupil funding based on the needs of individual students, another purpose is to make the amount of funding dedicated to K-12 education more transparent. This report addresses the second purpose of the Pupil-Centered Funding Plan – specifically the State/local taxes and fees that will be dedicated to public elementary and secondary education.

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 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 on Nevada’s budget can be accessed below: 

Guinn Center Nevada Budget 2019-2021 Infographics

Educating Nevada

Rural Education in Nevada

Comparative data and research suggest that rural students and school districts face their own, sometimes unique, challenges. This policy report provides additional context around Nevada’s educational outcomes for all students, while comparing rural and urban students. 

COVID-19 Public Health Concerns and K-12 Instruction

The goals of this policy brief are to: (1) summarize the existing research on COVID-19 as it relates to children and young adults and their infection and transmission rates and test positivity rates; (2) summarize the guidance of national and public health agencies as it relates to school reopening plans; and (3) summarize the experiences of other countries that have reopened schools. 

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. However, Clark County School District noted that approximately 27 percent of CCSD 2019-2020 student enrollment, or 120,000 students, would be unable to access virtual instruction once schools temporarily closed because they lack access to a computer and/or the Internet. Similarly, Washoe County School District noted that many of their students would not be able to retrieve their assignments electronically during the school closures. Many stakeholders have raised concerns that the “digital divide” could further widen achievement gaps. To better understand how significant the digital divide is for Nevada’s K-12 students, 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, and the geographic areas where the digital divide is more prevalent.

See here for infographic: https://bit.ly/2XgOtle

A Healthy Nevada

Helping Hands: An Assessment of the Personal Care Aide Workforce in Nevada

This policy report summarizes the personal care aide landscape in Nevada and identifies challenges faced by personal care aides in the workplace. The Guinn Center analyzed data from a broad range of governmental, academic, and non-profit entities, while using official government documents to inform our research further, as well as secondary sources to provide context. Our team evaluated four primary dimensions of the workforce to provide a comprehensive assessment: demographic, social, and economic characteristics; training requirements; employment, occupational projections, and wages; and public financing of personal care services.

Slide Deck Summary: Guinn Center Helping Hands Deck

Executive Summary: Guinn Center Helping Hands Ex Summary

PCA Infographic in English: PCAs Infographic 2020

PCA Infographic in Spanish: PCAs Infographic Aug 2020

The Impact of COVID-19 on Communities of Color in Nevada

This policy brief identifies the preliminary health and economic impacts of COVID-19 on communities of color in Nevada. 

Mental Health Spending in Nevada

This policy brief examines mental health spending in Nevada over time. 

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. At the time of this writing, 55 people in Nevada have tested positive for COVID-19. School and office closures, cancellations of major events, and temporary disruptions to the supply chain have heightened the sense of anxiety around the Silver State. The unease has been compounded by the State’s limited health care capacity, about which we have written beforeIn this policy brief, we present a snapshot of the current health care system capacity and then more closely examine budgetary resources available to Nevada for public health emergencies. 

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. For a full-time worker, that amounts to approximately 40 hours per year or five 8-hour workdays. Temporary, seasonal, or on-call employees are exempt from the provisions of SB 312, as are those who receive paid leave under a contract, policy, collective bargaining agreement or other agreement. This policy brief examines the impact of paid sick leave legislation in Nevada.