Guinn Center Research
The 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 last year. Archived reports are included under the issues tab.
Question 1: Marsy’s Law, which will be considered by voters on November 6, 2018., seeks to amend the Nevada Constitution to remove current provisions for victims’ rights and replace them with a new “victims’ bill of rights.” This voter information guide seeks to answer some of the questions voters may have about this ballot measure.
Question 2: The Amendment to the Sales and Use Tax Act of 1955 is a statewide statutory ballot initiative that proposes to exempt certain feminine hygiene products, defined specifically as sanitary napkins or tampons, from sales and use taxes in Nevada, the Local School Support Tax (LSST), and other analogous taxes, such as those that provide revenue to local governments.
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 seeks to answer some of the questions voters may have about this ballot measure.
See here for a copy in Spanish: Guinn Center Pregunta 3 Guia para los votantes
This fact sheet provides information on the Medical Patient Tax Relief Act, a ballot question for the November 2018 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.
Question 5: The Automatic Voter Registration Initiative is a statewide statutory ballot initiative that proposes to amend State law from an “opt-in” voter registration system to an “opt-out” system. When completing a transaction through the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), such as an application for a new driver’s license or a Nevada Identification Card, individuals would be registered to vote automatically unless they affirmatively decline in writing their intent to opt out of voter registration. A “YES” vote means that when processing certain transactions at the Nevada DMV, individuals would be registered to vote automatically unless they affirmatively decline in writing their intent to opt out of voter registration. A “NO” vote means that State law would not be amended to establish automatic voter registration (AVR). The current “opt-in” voter registration at the Nevada DMV would remain in place.
Question 6: The Renewable Energy Promotion Initiative is a statewide constitutional ballot initiative that will be placed before Nevada’s registered voters at the November 6, 2018, General Election. Question 6 proposes to double the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) from 25 percent by 2025 to 50 percent by 2030. This voter information guide seeks to answer some of the questions voters may have about this ballot measure.
Question WC-1: Truckee River Flood Management Authority Funding Question is a Washoe County ballot question that proposes to impose an additional property tax rate in the amount of $0.0248 per $100 of assessed value for the purpose of funding a Truckee River flood prevention project and to allow the Truckee River Flood Management Authority to issue up to $89 million of general obligation bonds to finance this project. A “YES” vote would authorize Washoe County to increase property taxes by $0.0248 per $100 of assessed valuation for the purpose of financing a flood control project on the Truckee River. A “NO” vote would keep the current property tax structure in place.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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).
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. (May 2017)
Infographics (in English and Spanish) on Nevada’s property taxes can be found here.
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.
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.
While there are pockets of success, Nevada’s educational landscape is characterized largely by dismal outcomes. Among the successes are some of the State Public School Charter Authority (SPSCA)-sponsored charter schools. An analysis of recent accountability data indicates that state-sponsored (SPSCA) charter schools have higher star ratings, on average, than traditional district public schools. However, there is significant variation among charter schools. Specifically, virtual state-sponsored charter schools and district-sponsored charter schools, as a group, are among the lowest performing schools in the Silver State. This policy brief provides an overview of the performance of district-sponsored charter schools in the state’s two largest urban school districts, the Clark County School District (CCSD) and Washoe County School District (WCSD).
The Guinn Center compared enrollment, demographics, and performance metrics across traditional—i.e., non-virtual—state-sponsored public charter schools, district-sponsored public charter schools, and district public schools, as well as virtual state-sponsored public charter schools and virtual district public schools.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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 policy report summarizes and evaluates the primary arguments for and against passage of Question 3. While the Guinn Center does not take a position on Question 3, we seek to inform the debate so that decision-makers, ratepayers, and voters better understand the issue. Given that the evidence we reviewed is comparative and historical, rather than predictive, we cannot demonstrate conclusively that energy choice (Question 3) is either “good” or “bad” for Nevada. That can be known only with the wisdom of hindsight. The Guinn Center notes, however, that the transition to a restructured (or “energy choice”) electricity market in other states was characterized by variability in rate behavior, implementation challenges, and, for residential ratepayers, increased uncertainty resulting from greater exposure to wholesale electric prices.
See here for Executive Summary: Guinn Center Q3 Ex Summary
See here for the Executive Summary in Spanish: Guinn Center Q3 Resumen Ejecutivo Espanol