Back in 2011, it was reported that the Koch Brothers Are Fueling Far Right Academic Centers At Universities Across The Country:
Budget constraints and other problems at universities have allowed a small set of oligarchs to use school donations to interfere with academic integrity on campuses. A group of hedge fund managers, working through the Manhattan Institute’s Veritas Fund, have created entire departments dedicated to advancing failed supply side ideas and climate skepticism. John Allison, the former CEO of BB&T Bank, a bailout recipient, has used his corporation’s money to force college campuses to adopt Ayn Rand readings into their programs.
I posted about the “Kochtopus” infiltrating research universities with their money to fund institutes and professors of propaganda, like Steven Slivinski at ASU, last year. Tempe Normal, er, Arizona State University is now “Koch Brothers U.” “Kochtopus” cash and Koch Brothers U. (ASU).
The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports State universities slated to get $5M for little-known ‘freedom schools’:
The state university system is still reeling from last year’s $99 million cut, and higher education advocates for the three state universities are pleading with lawmakers to restore some of their funding now that the state’s budget outlook is improving.
Universities are asking for an additional $24 million in funding in fiscal year 2017, bringing the total funding down to $75 million less than universities had two years ago.
According to draft budget spreadsheets circulating around the Capitol as the budget continues to be negotiated, that doesn’t appear likely. One of the few reprieves the universities are getting is a $5 million addition specifically earmarked for “economic freedom schools.”
However, many lawmakers have no idea what an “economic freedom school” or center is.
And the universities are just as stumped about why the centers are receiving state funding. The Arizona Board of Regents said it never asked for the $5 million for the centers, and its priority for the year is mitigating the cuts made last year.
Republican Rep. Bob Thorpe of Flagstaff, who chairs the House Government and Higher Education Committee, was among the lawmakers who drew a blank when asked what the schools are and who requested funding.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Don Shooter also couldn’t explain what the centers are. He said nobody from the universities approached him about the funding, and he was unsure why the centers are slated to receive $5 million in funding in a draft of this year’s budget.
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There are three economic freedom centers that would receive the funding, according the Legislature’s budget arm, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.
University of Arizona has a Center for the Philosophy of Freedom, a research center that falls under the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Arizona State University has a Center for the Study of Economic Liberty and a Center for Political Thought and Leadership. All three are research centers that do not produce degrees.
And all three centers are mostly funded by private conservative donations, including donations from the controversial Charles Koch Charitable Foundation. Charles and David Koch own Koch Industries, one of the largest multinational corporations in the world, and are known for their heavily financial backing of conservative candidates and causes.
Only UofA’s center receives direct, earmarked money from the state – an annual $500,000 appropriation.
ASU came under fire in 2014 when it accepted a $3.5 million donation from the Koch Foundation Center to create the Study of Economic Liberty. The school’s Center for Political Thought and Leadership accepted an early donation of more than $1 million from the Koch Foundation, according to press releases from the university.
UofA’s center was also started with some seed money from the Koch Foundation, according to a 2011 article in the Tucson Weekly. Among its other major funders are Randy and Ken Kendrick, who are major donors to conservative causes, and principal owners of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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Democratic lawmakers have derided the centers as Koch-backed Libertarian-leaning think tank operations that shouldn’t receive state funding.
But Republican Sen. John Kavanagh of Fountain Hills said the centers are designed to promote free-market ideas in the bastion of liberalism that is the university system.
“It’s an attempt to have one voice out of 30,000 on campus advocating that side of the issue,” Kavanagh said, noting he didn’t ask for the $5 million in funding for the centers.
Democratic Sen. Steve Farley of Tucson countered that if the idea is to advocate free market policies, the centers should practice what they preach and not take any state money.
“Why do we need to spend taxpayer money on an institute to study free markets? Shouldn’t they go to the free market for that?” Farley asked.
Have you noticed that John Kavanagh always seems to be at the center of the GOP culture of corruption in Arizona? He was the House Appropriations Committee Chair before moving over to the Senate, where he is now the vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Remember when Kavanagh Put $900000 into State Budget for Private Prisons at the eleventh hour in 2014 and got caught red handed? If you want to sniff out the source of this cool “Kochtopus” cash to “economic freedom schools,” I would start with this corrupt politician.
The Republic‘s Laurie Roberts, however, suspects this cool “Kochtopus” cash is a political payoff from Doug Ducey, the ice cream man hired by Koch Industries to run their Southwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Arizona. Is Ducey paying off ASU’s Koch center for endorsing Prop. 123?
Looks like ASU’s Koch-funded Center for the Study of Economic Liberty’s enthusiastic thumbs up for Gov. Doug Ducey’s Prop. 123 has paid off.
As in a multi-million-dollar payoff.
Mysteriously, someone over at the Capitol has inserted $5 million into next year’s proposed state budget for universities. The money is earmarked for “economic freedom schools.”
While our leaders refuse to properly fund Arizona’s universities, it seems there’s a nice honeypot being set aside for schools that don’t even offer a degree, according to the Arizona Capitol Times.
Arizona’s universities have endured the deepest cuts in the nation since the Great Recession, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Last year alone, the Legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey cut $99 million from universities – a 13 percent cut in state funding. This, on top of $400 million in previous recession-era cuts.
State support for universities has dropped from $1.1 billion in 2008 to $550 million this year — from $9,439 per student in 2008 to $4,196 per student this year.
Universities are asking for $32 million more in next year’s budget.
So naturally, some mysterious person has suggested $5 million – money earmarked only for “economic freedom schools.”
Nobody knows who put it there. One theory has it that the $5 million was inserted by Senate President Andy Biggs and House Speaker David Gowan — two congressional candidates seeking favor with big donors to conservative causes. People like Diamondbacks’ owners Ken and Randy Kendrick,who are major donors to one of those “economic freedom schools”, the University of Arizona’s Center for the Philosophy of Freedom.
Nobody knows who put it there, but it seems fairly clear to me. (Though there is an alternate theory being bandied about. Read on.)
ASU’s Center for the Study of Economic Liberty was created in November 2014 – just after Ducey’s election. The center was funded with $3.5 million from the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation.
You know, the people who helped raise Ducey’s profile in 2012 by pouring dark money into his campaign to defeat a sales tax for K-12 schools?
The people who lined Ducey’s 2014 path to the governor’s office by pumping millions of dollars in dark money into the campaign?
The ones to whom Ducey pays homage a couple of times a year, at secret summits where the Kochs and their deep-pocketed pals screen candidates and extol the virtues of private prisons, publicly funded private schools and tax cuts and such?
In October, ASU’s new Koch-funded Center for the Study of Economic Liberty endorsed Ducey’s Prop. 123 plan to temporarily boost school funding by siphoning more money from the state land trust.
Now, suddenly, someone has plugged $5 million into next year’s proposed budget for universities for “economic freedom schools.”
The money, the Cap Times reports, would go to three centers, all of which have received seed funding from the Koch Foundation:
UofA’s Center for the Philosophy of Freedom. ASU’s Center for Political Thought and Leadership.
And yes, ASU’s Center for the Study of Economic Liberty.
Turns out payback’s a …. blessing.
In a follow up, Laurie Roberts writes, Legislature to give millions to a guy who wants to eliminate public schools?
What’s more shocking than our leaders earmarking millions of dollars for “economic freedom schools” while universities have endured the nation’s deepest cuts?
How about earmarking millions of dollars to an “economic freedom school” headed by a guy who wants to eliminate public schools?
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One of the three schools that would get the dough: ASU’s Center for the Study of Economic Liberty. The school opened just after Gov. Doug Ducey’s election in 2014, with private funding, including a $3.5 million grant from the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation.
Just coincidentally, I’m sure, the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty has endorsed Ducey’s Proposition 123, to pay part of the state’s K-12 school tab out of the state land trust.
Turns out William Boyes, founder and director of the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty, supports the elimination of public schools. In November, Boyes spoke at a conference sponsored by the Mises Institute, about the need for centers such as his to push for a more free market approach in universities.
“We have to change education from K-12 to universities to be more open to … a free market approach,” he said. “We don’t see that at those levels. I think the centers, if they can create departments and programs, can create free market economic thinkers and the more we put out there, the more impact it’ll have in the long run.
“I also think that if we can do the same thing in K through 12, get rid of public education, create private education as a replacement and have a market for education, then I think we really have an impact.”
ASU even provides a link to the Schools Sucks Project, which has a podcast of Boyes’ comments to Mises, entitled The Demise of Government Schools.
As the School Sucks people noted on their podcast page: “It’s always exciting when a prominent figure at an enormous public university – the largest public university by enrollment in the U.S – openly calls for the end of public schooling.”
Yeah, totally exciting.
And the perfect candidate for millions in state funding toward his quest, courtesy of a Legislature that has spent years starving the public schools and siphoning more and more public funds to private schools.
Something to think about as you ponder Proposition 123 and our leaders’ commitment to the improvement of Arizona’s public schools.
The GOP culture of corruption in Arizona is a swirling cesspool of crap. If you want to end it, you have to vote every Tea-Publican out of office in November.