Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Cash For the Koch's University Outposts: Watch This Budget Item

Posted By on Tue, Apr 23, 2019 at 3:51 PM

It's a classic quid pro quo. The Koch brothers' network of donors helped fund then-Treasurer Doug Ducey's 2012 campaign against a one cent sales tax for schools, then it contributed big bucks to his gubernatorial campaigns. In return, Ducey made sure state funds go to the latest additions to the Koch's nationwide network of think tanks and university outposts: UA's Freedom Center and ASU's School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

Ducey gets a few millions in contributions. The many-tentacled Koch network, often referred to as the Kochtapus, gets $7.5 million a year from the state to extend its influence. Small investment, big return. That's how the rich and powerful like to do things.

In 2014, 2015 and 2016, UA's Freedom Center received half a million dollars each year from the state. In 2017, the amount increased to three-quarters of a million. In 2018 and 2019 it leapt to $3.5 million. It's on track to get the same amount in this year's budget.

ASU's School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership began getting state funding in 2016, with half a million. In 2017 it went up to three-quarters of a million. In 2018, 2019 and most likely in this year's budget, its allocation is $4 million.

Over the last few years, the two programs have pulled in a total of $7.5 million per year.

You can find the numbers for the two programs listed in the state's itemized state budgets for the two universities. That's unusual. More than unusual. Unique. No other university department or program has a line item of its own.

Neither program has been able to spend its entire allotments in recent years. At the same time public education from kindergarten through college is hurting for money in Arizona, these folks don't know what to do with the state's largesse. Yet their funding streams continue at the same level, and they don't have to worry about anyone making them return what they don't use. They can deposit the remainder in an account to be used sometime in the future. That's written into their budgets.

It's a great deal for the Kochs and their conservative, libertarian-leaning friends: government funded university outposts to promote the belief that that we need less government.

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