Document Type

Capstone Project

Publication Date

Spring 5-13-2022

Publication Title

Brookings Public Policy Minor Culminating Project

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Nevada experienced one of the worst economic downturns in the nation following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which exposed the vulnerability of Nevada workers. In his 2021 State of the State address, Governor Steve Sisolak highlighted aligning the state’s workforce development capacity with community colleges to best leverage federal funding and statewide infrastructure for jobs training and economic recovery. In addition, he said, “I will be asking the Legislature to work with the Nevada System of Higher Education over the next two years to develop a framework transitioning Nevada’s community colleges to a new independent authority that will focus on making Nevadans’ job ready.” The result of that legislative ask was a study committee (Assembly Bill (AB) 450), which is meeting during the first half of 2022. The Community College Workforce Training & Programs Committee discussed creating a grant to provide five million dollars for non- traditional students in the form of a scholarship. Governance reform was hardly addressed. Community colleges are an asset for helping students receive training for “middle skill” occupations to fill needed roles. The unitary structure of the NSHE and the governance oversight by the University of Nevada Board of Regents is unique in how other states govern their community colleges and support workforce development initiatives. In this policy brief, I delve into Nevada’s Legislative History regarding higher education and analyze the governance and funding of community colleges in neighboring Mountain West states (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah), provide regional economic context, and offer policy recommendations.


Nevada; workforce development; higher education; governance; economics; public policy; Mountain West; comparative analysis; legislative action; economics


Higher Education | Labor Economics | Public Affairs | Public Policy | Regional Economics | Social Policy | Urban Studies