TransparentNevada releases 2012 public-employee salary information

NPRI NEWS RELEASE

NPRI logoLAS VEGAS — Salary data for more than 132,000 government employees statewide, for the 2012 calendar year, is now available at TransparentNevada.com, a Nevada Policy Research Institute website that makes government-spending data easily accessible to taxpayers.

The new 2012 data — covering 58 government jurisdictions throughout Nevada, at state, county and city levels — includes several newly added jurisdictions.

“Thanks to the information available at TransparentNevada, Nevada’s citizens, lawmakers and media members are now able to easily see exactly how much government employees take home in compensation,” said Andy Matthews, president of NPRI. “Many government employees make staggering amounts.”

“For instance, more than 1,200 government employees throughout the state received over $200,000 last year in total compensation,” he added. “That list ranges from a Henderson deputy police chief who made over $559,000, a Clark County assistant district attorney who took home more than $522,000, a Las Vegas IT director who received over $356,000 and a Washoe County district health officer making over $209,000.

“Compensation for government employees isn’t outrageously high only because retiring employees legally fleece taxpayers by cashing in unused sick leave. Government compensation is inflated for many government workers, with over 22,100 making more than $100,000 in total compensation.”

Matthews noted that Las Vegas City Manager Elizabeth Fretwell’s $386,784 compensation package more than doubled the $181,586 earned by Gov. Brian Sandoval. Also earning more than the governor in total compensation were a human resources director making $220,908 with the Southern Nevada Water Authority, a community services director in Washoe County making $184,343 and the parks and recreation director in Henderson making $219,402.

In all, over 2,000 government employees made more than Sandoval last year.

The payroll data provides important information as the Legislature is considering measures to raise taxes so public employees can be paid even more.

“The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department currently wants the Legislature to raise taxes to balance its budget, but one glance at the numbers on TransparentNevada shows that Metro’s budget problems come from inflated salaries,” said Matthews. “High compensation comes standard in Metro, with 348 employees taking in over $175,000 and 2,204 employees making over $125,000.”

In 2012, 2,289 state employees made over $100,000 in total compensation, even with many of them taking six unpaid furlough days. Now the Legislature is considering a proposal to raise taxes while boosting state worker pay by eliminating furloughs.

Matthews added that one bright spot for taxpayers was that the number of Clark County firefighters earning over $200,000 has dropped from 199 in 2010 to 92 in 2012. However, in Las Vegas the number of firefighters earning over $200,000 dramatically increased from 79 in 2011 to 130 in 2012.

“The data on TransparentNevada is a vivid reminder that government employees are living high on the hog while taxpayers struggle,” said Matthews. “Although government employee unions frequently have made a big show of ‘contract concessions,’ where one of their many scheduled salary increases is skipped, this data leaves no doubt that thousands upon thousands of government employees are overpaid.”

Most government jurisdictions fulfilled requests for public-employee data, Matthews said.

“It was encouraging to see more jurisdictions than ever before fully comply with Nevada’s public-records law and provide full salary and benefit information,” he said. “Unfortunately, officials in a few places — such as Mesquite and Nye County — did not. These jurisdictions needlessly opened themselves to potential lawsuits.”

TransparentNevada, on the Web at http://TransparentNevada.com, was first launched in September 2008 and has served as a unique source of government-financing information for thousands of citizens, journalists and elected officials.

Matthews said that the site will be adding salary data from even more jurisdictions in the coming weeks.

Tickets now available for NPRI 2013 spring celebration

SUBMITTED BY NPRI

NPRI logoJohn Allison, the president and CEO of the Cato Institute, will deliver the keynote address at the Nevada Policy Research Institute’s 2013 Spring Celebration. The event will be held on Wednesday, June 19, at The Eldorado Hotel and Casino in Reno.

Prior to joining Cato, Allison was chairman and CEO of BB&T Corporation, the 10th largest financial services holding company headquartered in the United States. During his tenure as CEO from 1989 to 2008, BB&T grew from $4.5 billion to $152 billion in assets. He was recognized by the Harvard Business Review as one of the 100 most successful CEOs in the world over the last decade. Allison is also the author of the New York Times bestseller The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure.

Details
General reception begins at 6 p.m. Dinner program begins at 7 p.m.

The Eldorado Hotel & Casino is at 345 N. Virginia St., Reno.

For more information or to make your reservation, please contact NPRI at (702) 222-0642 or at office@npri.org. You can sign up online at this link.

Former Superintendent Guthrie proposal: Pay best teachers $200,000 a year

NPRI NEWS RELEASE

NPRI logoLAS VEGAS — Paying unusually effective teachers $200,000 a year will transform the teaching profession in Nevada by attracting more top-level talent to the classroom. That’s the bold idea spelled out by former Nevada Superintendent Dr. James W. Guthrie in a new Nevada Policy Research Institute report. Guthrie was Nevada’s first appointed superintendent of public instruction.

The study, entitled The $200,000-a-Year Classroom Teacher: A New Paradigm to Rescue Nevada Public Education, details how to create — and dramatically reward — a new cadre of high-performing teachers.

“For far too long public education in Nevada has been stuck in a downward spiral,” said Guthrie. “Nevada’s education system needs a dramatic change to shake the system loose and displace entrenched special-interest groups.”

“Because teachers are rewarded for their longevity and academic credits, instead of their effectiveness, many of America’s most talented college graduates bypass teaching for professions that recognize and reward results. Offering top teachers the opportunity to earn $200,000 a year would change that paradigm and lead the cream of America’s academic crop to consider teaching in Nevada.”

Guthrie noted that identifying teachers who would be eligible to apply to become Master Teachers hinges on Nevada adding a value-added system for student and teacher assessment at a low annual cost of $3.75 per year per student. The best value-added modeling systems, while adjusting for differences in students’ backgrounds and prior performance, reveal how much academic value a teacher adds and thus help identify exceptionally effective educators.

Teachers who score in the top 10 percent would be eligible to apply to become Master Teachers, under Guthrie’s proposal. Qualifiers would also agree to remain as classroom instructors, work on a contract of 44 weeks a year, hold Master Teacher contracts only for a year or two at a time with renewable status, and have their students’ value-added test scores routinely reviewed in order to justify that they are among the highest performing 10 percent of Nevada’s teachers.

Most importantly, Master Teachers must agree to instruct at schools determined to be most in need of their services.

“With increased compensation must come increased responsibility and accountability,” said Guthrie. “There’s no lifetime tenure with the Master Teacher program. If a Master Teacher does not continue to meet these stringent criteria, he or she must not continue to be rewarded at the higher compensation level.”

Guthrie estimated that while the program could cost Nevada as much as $200 million a year, it could be funded on a revenue-neutral basis by redirecting spending that currently goes into programs of questionable consequence, such as class-size reduction.

“The evidence is perfectly clear,” he said. “Teacher quality is the most important factor in student achievement. An excellent teacher can add 18 months of learning in a year to a student, while a poor teacher adds only six months.

“In contrast, across-the-board class-size reduction is a waste of limited resources. Even the liberal Center for American Progress notes in The False Promise of Class-Size Reduction that states waste billions of dollars ‘by pursuing across-the-board reductions in class size.’

“Many legislators disregard evidence on class size to the detriment of tens of thousands of Nevada’s students. Disregarding factors that actually increase student achievement is a tragedy that disproportionally harms Nevada’s poorest and most vulnerable students.

“The $200,000-a-year classroom teacher proposal puts the focus and taxpayers’ limited resources into what matters most — high-quality teachers.”

NPRI President Andy Matthews praised the study, saying, “The current system of public education isn’t working, and to be transformed, it needs bold ideas like Dr. Guthrie’s call for a $200,000-a-year classroom teacher.

“Unlike Nevada’s current education system, which blindly funds salary increases across the pay scale, this proposal rewards the best, inspires the rest and instills accountability.”

The full study, The $200,000-a-Year Classroom Teacher: A New Paradigm to Rescue Nevada Public Education, is available at http://www.npri.org/docLib/20130426_200000_teacher_report.pdf.

Study: RPS to cost Nevadans $2.2 billion, 1,930 jobs over 12 years

NPRI NEWS RELEASE

NPRI logoLAS VEGAS — Government energy mandates will cost Nevadans $2.275 billion while lowering employment by 1,930 jobs over the next dozen years, concludes a new study from the Nevada Policy Research Institute.

The study, entitled RPS: A Recipe for Economic Decline, details the wealth-destroying impact of Nevada’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, which mandates that NV Energy use renewable-energy resources to supply 25 percent of Nevada’s electricity by 2025. The report was produced by three scholars from the Beacon Hill Institute for Public Policy Research at Suffolk University: David G. Tuerck, Paul Bachman and Michael Head.

Because renewable energy is more expensive than energy from traditional sources, the study finds, the RPS will kick Nevada’s electricity prices 6 percent higher by 2025.

“Increases in electricity costs have a profound negative effect on the economy — similar to tax increases — because prosperity and economic growth depend on access to reliable and affordable energy,” said Bachman. “Since electricity is an essential commodity, consumers and producers of goods will have limited opportunity to avoid the costs added by the renewable standards.

“Over 12 years, Nevada’s RPS will cost families an average of $940 in higher power rates. For the poorest members of society, these energy taxes will compete directly with essential purchases in the household budget, such as food, transportation and shelter.”

The Nevada Legislature is currently considering changes to Nevada’s RPS, including Senate Bill 252, which would not allow energy-efficiency measures to count towards Nevada’s 25 percent mandate.

“If SB 252 passes, the detrimental impact on Nevada jobs and household budgets created by the RPS will only get worse,” said Geoffrey Lawrence, NPRI’s deputy policy director. “Even though Public Utilities Commissioner David Noble recently noted that ratepayers ‘are maxed out,’ many legislators continue to push for laws that will drive electricity prices even higher.

“Government cannot create a more prosperous society by requiring the state’s public utility to produce an essential product through less-efficient and less-reliable means. Anyone who says otherwise is either economically illiterate or willfully misleading.”

The study notes that power provided by wind and solar sources have significant “intermittency” issues — meaning that when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine, wind and solar power plants don’t produce electricity. Thus, in order to keep the voltage of the electricity grid in equilibrium, so-called “renewable” resources like wind and solar power still require traditional power plants to run, or idle continuously, as back-up generation.

“If the wind dies down or blows too hard, which trips a shutdown mechanism in commercial windmills, another power source must be ramped up or cycled instantaneously,” said Bachman. “Because of these inherent limitations, new wind and solar generation plants do not replace any dispatchable generation sources.”

Added Lawrence: “High electricity prices already limit job creation and restrict Nevada’s economy. Even if the Legislature doesn’t impose new RPS mandates, the RPS currently in place will reduce real disposable income by $233 million over the next dozen years.

“Unfortunately for Nevada job-seekers, businesses and residential ratepayers, many politicians think they can get away with making the state’s economically destructive RPS even more damaging for everyone in the state. They think voters won’t get it.

“Many energy bills of this sort — from NVision to SB 252 — are before the Legislature this session. But they basically only increase the cost of electricity, taking money out of citizens’ pockets and giving it to the political cronies in the renewable-energy business.”

The full study, RPS: A Recipe for Economic Decline, is available at http://www.npri.org/docLib/20130424_RPS-ARecipeforDecline.pdf.

NPRI reacts to Senate Republican tax increase proposal

NPRI NEWS RELEASE

NPRI logoCARSON CITY — Responding to today’s proposal by six Senate Republicans to more than double Nevada’s mining tax in order to increase education funding, NPRI’s deputy policy director, Geoffrey Lawrence, released the following comments:

If spending alone were the key to improving Nevada’s education system, then it’s particularly curious why educational achievement has languished over the past 50 years even as per-pupil spending has more than tripled on an inflation-adjusted basis.

This week’s news that the Clark and Washoe County School Districts each had 65-plus percent rates of failure on the math portion of the High School Proficiency Exam only further emphasizes the state’s inability to translate higher raw spending figures into classroom success.

In reality, there is no correlation nationwide between raw, per-pupil spending figures and objective measures of student achievement. What’s more important is how the money is spent, and Nevada has not spent well. Despite what the education lobby may say, the objective figures from the federal education department reveal that Nevada now spends more per pupil than a majority of its neighbors, despite getting inferior results.

If Nevada lawmakers were to pursue the same reform agenda as neighboring Arizona — which spends $900 less per pupil than Nevada — students in the Silver State would benefit dramatically. Unfortunately, Nevada lawmakers have ignored these objective facts and yielded to the demagoguery of special interests who want more money, but minimal accountability.

Lawrence noted that the Clark County School District has only fired two principals in the last 30 years and that its rate of removing poorly performing teachers is a microscopic one-tenth of one percent a year.

Spending $600 million more on education, or even $600 billion more, won’t increase student achievement in a system that consciously demands no accountability and faces only inconsequential competition.

In the private sector, poor performers are told to shape up or ship out. With this proposal, however, these Republican politicians actually seek to reward an unaccountable system that fails tens of thousands of students each year.

The entire premise of the Senate Republicans’ proposal is flawed: It’s not a lack of money that’s holding back Nevada’s education system. It’s the failure of state legislators to stand up for kids and implement the reforms that have proven effective in states across the country — even in states that spend dramatically less than Nevada.

Remarking specifically about the tax portion of the Senate Republican proposal, Lawrence continued:

Government shouldn’t pick winners and losers through the tax code. Tax policy should minimize distortions in economic behavior and allow all entrepreneurs to compete on a level playing field.

Penalizing specific industries isn’t a valid goal of tax policy.

If lawmakers want to have a discussion about revenues from mining, it should center around how Nevada can take back the 85 percent of its lands currently controlled by the federal government. If these lands became available for private ownership and development, then state and local governments could reap immediate revenues from private auction as well as ongoing property tax revenues while miners could claim ownership over the minerals contained in their property without jumping through complex bureaucratic hoops.

Further, if changes to the way Nevada collects taxes are to be considered at all, it should be on a revenue-neutral basis only. There’s merit to tax reforms such as simplifying the tax code, eliminating tax-induced distortions, and reducing volatility. But the facts make it clear that Nevada’s failures don’t result from a lack of revenue — they result from the continued inability of policymakers to allocate existing resources well.

NPRI invitation to event featuring speaker from ALEC

Rich States, Poor States: A Guide to Economic Prosperity

NPRI logoFeaturing:

Jonathan Williams
Director, Center for State Fiscal Reform
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

Jonathan Williams is the director of the Center for State Fiscal Reform and the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), where he works with state policymakers, congressional leaders and members of the private sector to develop fiscal policy solutions for the states.

Along with Dr. Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore, Williams is the co-author of the annual Rich States, Poor States report, which details state-controlled factors in economic prosperity. His work has appeared in many publications including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Investor’s Business Daily.

March 15, 2013
7:00 a.m.

Plaza Hotel and Event Center
801 South Carson Street
Carson City, Nevada 89701

Sign up now for the Carson City policy breakfast

For more information or to make your reservation, please contact
NPRI at (702) 222-0642 or at office@npri.org.

This event is open to anyone interested in state fiscal reform.

NPRI: Assembly Republicans’ plan would reform education while defending taxpayers

NPRI NEWS RELEASE

NPRI logoCARSON CITY — In response to an Assembly Republican press conference on education policy, NPRI’s Deputy Policy Director Geoffrey Lawrence released the following comments:

The education-reform agenda announced by the Assembly Republicans is quite encouraging in many respects. Like Governor Sandoval, Assembly Republicans have grasped that, in public education, we frequently don’t get what we pay for, and that some programs are vastly more cost-effective than others.

They also grasp that Nevada taxpayers — who, of course, must also provide for their own, private household needs — necessarily have only limited resources. Which means it is incumbent upon policymakers to choose the most cost-effective solutions available and forego those that are less effective.

Lawrence noted that the most efficient way to improve student achievement without further burdening taxpayers is to improve accountability by allowing parents to choose where and how their child will be educated. “With choice comes consumer discipline,” he said, “which allows the forces of the marketplace to weed out ineffective educators while the most talented educators are rewarded.”

He continued:

It’s particularly encouraging to see that Assembly Republicans, along with Governor Sandoval, call for a tax-credit scholarship program. States as diverse as Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island now boast these programs that provide financing to primarily low-income children. Tax-credit scholarships allow these children to escape failing neighborhood schools and instead attend private schools of their choice. For these children, this opens up untold possibilities that would otherwise never be available.

Because choice programs like tax-credit scholarships are most beneficial to families with limited incomes, they have been supported by policymakers from all points on the political spectrum. It’s also why important commentators on the political Left have characterized school choice as “a civil rights issue.”

Lawrence noted that longitudinal studies have repeatedly shown that full-day kindergarten — like other early-education programs — fails to produce lasting gains in student achievement. Speaking directly of these programs, he said:

While these ideas might sound great in theory, decades of evidence have demonstrated that they do not accomplish what their proponents promise. The point of all education spending should be to improve a child’s achievement over a lifetime, and these programs’ results fade almost immediately.

Although not highlighted by Assembly Republicans, class-size reduction is also an expensive program that has failed to produce results. Nevada taxpayers have now poured more than $2.2 billion into this program and, yet, the state’s own data has shown that students in larger classes have outperformed their peers in smaller classes.

What is the greatest variable impacting student achievement that schools can control? By a huge margin — research has shown — it’s the quality of the teacher. That’s why it’s essential for Nevada to establish meaningful teacher evaluations built on sound, longitudinal tracking of student performance. Once the best teachers have been identified, they should be handsomely rewarded, while those who are ineffective should be assisted to improve their skills with additional training — or encouraged to exit the classroom.

Lawrence further noted that every tax dollar used to bail out Nevada’s struggling Public Employees’ Retirement System or on excessive building costs is a dollar that is unavailable for classroom spending. He concluded:

Assembly Republicans recognize that the budget process is about tradeoffs, and that if they want to spend more on education, they must find savings elsewhere. That’s why it’s so important to end the unnecessary hundreds of millions wasted by Nevada’s prevailing wage requirements, as 10 other states, facing similar challenges, have done since the 1980s. Also, PERS reform is paramount if that system is to remain solvent. Otherwise, taxpayers will continue to be compelled to dump more and more into the system each year to attempt to keep up with its large and growing unfunded liability.

NPRI to Reid: Tell the truth about ‘clean energy’

NPRI NEWS RELEASE

NPRI logoLAS VEGAS — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid addressed the Nevada Legislature today, after announcing earlier this week that he will, once again, highlight solar energy as an example of Nevada’s “clean energy potential.”

In response to that announcement, Nevada Policy Research Institute President Andy Matthews released the following comments:

It’s time that Senator Reid address the accumulating evidence — regularly reported in the national media and seen right here in Nevada — that state and federal government subsidies for so-called “clean energy” initiatives are only a huge, wasteful, crony-capitalist boondoggle.

These government handouts to inefficient providers, which cost middle-class taxpayers millions for each permanent job, are only lowering Nevadans’ standard of living. That’s what happens when government makes people purchase inefficient energy that’s up to four times as expensive as energy from the most efficient sources.

For years, Senator Reid has promised Nevadans that “clean energy” subsidies would help grow and diversify our economy. His taxpayer-funded windmills, however, are a net drag on the Silver State economy.

Since 2009, taxpayers have funneled more than $1.3 billion into geothermal, solar and wind projects in Nevada, but these projects have produced just 288 permanent jobs. That’s over $4.6 million in subsidies per job.

Senator Reid likes to highlight the number of temporary jobs associated with these projects, but the problem is that temporary jobs are fleeting. What our economy in Nevada needs is permanent and sustainable employment — which means jobs created by and grounded in the natural, private, market-based economy. Genuine, sustainable economic growth does not come from career politicians’ “juice” schemes to get federal dollars into the hands of their big-dollar campaign donors.

As examples, Matthews noted that now-completed solar plants near Primm and Boulder City have only seven full-time employees total after receiving $92 million in federal subsidies and $12 million in tax rebates from the state of Nevada. Matthews continued:

Notably, Senator Reid worked hard to kill coal-powered plants in rural Nevada that would have employed hundreds in a struggling community, and without federal handouts.

The best full-time jobs that Reid’s “green energy” efforts have produced haven’t gone to average citizens, but to former Reid aides working for politically connected “green energy” companies, or for his son Rory Reid, as a lobbyist for Chinese ENN Energy Group.

According to media reports, Sen. Reid will call for the state legislature to increase Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard. Currently, laws passed by state lawmakers require that 25 percent of the energy purchased by residents of the Silver State must come from “renewable” sources by 2025.

Said Matthews:

Senator Reid likes to say that Nevada is the Saudi Arabia of “renewable energy,” but there are two major problems with this analogy. First, Saudi Arabia’s energy helps that economy, and second, Saudi Arabia doesn’t need government mandates to sell its product.

The bottom line is that coal-powered plants produce electricity at a much lower price than do green-energy plants. Currently, NV Energy pays 3 to 5 cents per kilowatt-hour for natural gas and coal-fueled power, 8 to 10 cents per kWh for geothermal energy and for wind energy and 11 to 13 cents per kWh for solar photovoltaic energy. Wind and solar photovoltaic energy also require backup power for “intermittency issues.”

Further increasing Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard will further increase the price of electricity for Nevada’s ratepayers.

While these power-bill increases on Nevadans may not affect Senator Reid, in his $1 million Ritz Carlton condo in Washington, D.C., they reduce the standard of living for Silver State residents.

NPRI: Kirkpatrick wrong on education-spending claims

NPRI NEWS RELEASE

NPRI logoLAS VEGAS — In a speech earlier today, Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick claimed, “For too long the answer to education has been to cut.” Responding to her comments, Victor Joecks, communications director at the Nevada Policy Research Institute, issued the following comments:

Speaker Kirkpatrick’s statement that “for far too long the answer to education has been to cut” is wrong and ignores 50 years of Nevada’s history of education spending.

In 1960, Nevada spent $430 per pupil. In 2009, it spent $8,865 per student. Even after adjusting for inflation, Nevada has nearly tripled per-pupil spending in the last 50 years. Nevertheless, results have been stagnant — a reality that advocates, for their own credibility, need to acknowledge.

On the state level, per-pupil funding through the Distributive School Account has increased from $4,298 in 2004 to $5,374 in 2013. DSA funding has increased nine of the last 10 years, with the only decrease being a mere $26-a-student drop in 2010. Would anyone but a politician characterize a $1,076 increase as a “cut”?

Nevada will never solve the problem of its chronically failing education system until state leaders get honest about what’s already been tried.

For 50 years, Nevada has tried reflexively spending more. It’s never worked — unless the real purpose, all along, has been to channel taxpayer dollars to unions that then give campaign donations to subservient politicians.

It’s well past time that all elected officials understand and accurately portray Nevada’s education-spending history.

Joecks noted that, in Nevada State Superintendent James Guthrie’s academic career, Guthrie repeatedly exposed the myth of education cuts. He wrote that “Chicken Little is alive and seemingly employed as a finance analyst or reporter for an education interest group.” In an article entitled “The phony funding crisis,” Guthrie noted:

For a variety of reasons, from one year to the next, schools almost always have more real revenue for each of their enrolled students. For the past hundred years, with rare and short exceptions and after controlling for inflation, public schools have had both more money and more employees per student in each succeeding year.

Joecks concluded:

Spending more hasn’t increased student achievement, but research shows what does work is school choice. School choice programs have raised graduation rates in D.C. and increased math and reading scores in Milwaukee and Charlotte, and the mere competition generated from school choice increased public school outcomes in Milwaukee and Florida.

Properly structured, school choice programs also save tax dollars.

It’s time for Nevada to join 21 other states and Washington, D.C. and empower parents with the ability to select the school and school type that’s best for their child.

Nevada think tank publishes ‘piglet book’ citing government waste

NPRI logo

By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau

CARSON CITY – From double-dipping employees to the questionable use of credit cards, the newest edition of the Nevada Policy Research Institute’s “piglet book” released today offers highlights of recent questionable government agency actions.

The Nevada Piglet Book 2012” is authored by Geoffrey Lawrence, deputy policy director for NPRI, a libertarian think tank based in Las Vegas. The third edition comes out as lawmakers prepare to return to the capital for the 2013 legislative session.

In the 40-page report, Lawrence also reviews and raises questions about recent political and policy developments in Nevada, including the successful effort by Gov. Brian Sandoval and others to lure Apple to Reno, and U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s efforts to promote green energy projects in the state using taxpayer subsidies.

“While Reid regularly trumpets these deals as ways to ‘create jobs’ in the state, these deals – it’s clear upon review – are really about transferring wealth from taxpayers and electric ratepayers to campaign donors and allied politicians,” Lawrence writes in the report.

He cites the work of fellow NPRI staff in criticizing the effort: “Since 2009, with Reid’s backing, over $1.3 billion in federal taxpayer subsidies has gone into renewable-energy contracts in Nevada. Yet the projects those subsidies fund are projected to create only 288 permanent jobs in the state – a cost to taxpayers of $4.6 million per job.”

Reid has strongly supported green energy development in his Senate career. His website says: “Our country is too dependent on oil and fossil fuels, which pollute our air, place our economy and national security at risk, and contribute to climate change. As the Senate Majority Leader, I am working on building a clean energy future that will help provide Americans safe, reliable, and affordable supplies of clean energy.”

As to the decision by Apple to build a data center in the Reno area after receiving large tax breaks, Lawrence said in the report: “To help it win the tax breaks it sought, Apple hired lobbyist and Sandoval adviser Greg Ferraro to represent the company before the Governor’s Office of Economic Development – where insider Ferraro was already under contract to perform public relations work for $200 per hour.”

This relationship was reported by the Las Vegas Sun in August. Ferraro told the Sun he personally represented only Apple in the dealings that netted the company $89 million in tax breaks, not the state as well.

While some of the information in the Piglet Report comes from reporters and others looking into questions at all levels of government, many issues cited are uncovered by government agencies themselves through audits.

“Most people don’t follow audits, they don’t read them, so they don’t know what they say, and the problems that some of the cities and counties and state have had,” Lawrence said in a telephone interview in advance of the release of the report. “So this is kind of a nice way to make that information more easily accessible to the public.”

The audits are an important source of information on the activities of government agencies, but not all entities, including most counties and many cities, do not have an internal audit function, he said. Getting local governments to invest in such reviews would be a benefit to the taxpayers, Lawrence said.

Lawrence also cites a Nevada News Bureau story in the report regarding some questionable use of welfare cash grants, called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, by recipients.

“Over a seven-month period in 2011, Nevada TANF funds were withdrawn in 35 different states, Guam and the District of Columbia,” he said. “About a hundred withdrawals took place in liquor stores. Others took place in casinos and slot parlors. Some occurred in tourist destinations like New Orleans, Hawaii, Angel Stadium, Magic Mountain, SeaWorld San Diego, Knott’s Berry Farm and Pier 39 in San Francisco. While withdrawals of this nature were a minority, they indicate that at least some welfare payments went to fund indulgences – not necessities.”

The book, and other transparency efforts by NPRI, does have an effect on policy makers, Lawrence said. One example was the successful push for electronic reporting of campaign contribution and expense reports by candidates and elected officials, which was sought by others as well in the 2011 session including Secretary of State Ross Miller.

“These transparency issues especially are things that resonate with people on every end of the political spectrum,” Lawrence said. “So it’s easy for the public to get behind each of these measures. It’s perhaps a little more difficult for lawmakers who may not want to make things quite as transparent.”

But for everyone else the changes are clearly a benefit, he said.