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Beacon Hill Institute

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Learn more from the Center for Media and Democracy's research on climate change.

The Beacon Hill Institute (BHI) is a right-wing think tank housed at Suffolk University in Boston until 2016. It was founded in 1991 by businessman and Republican politician Ray Shamie.[1] BHI describes itself as "providing objective analysis to examine and influence public policy."[2] In 2016, the Massachusetts Teachers Association disclosed that, "For years, the Beacon Hill Institute operated with a stature similar to that of the Pioneer Institute. The two groups ensured that Massachusetts maintained a high profile among the national state-based think tanks organized through the State Policy Network" [3]

BHI was to sever ties with Suffolk University in 2016, BHI's director and a spokesperson for Suffolk University announced in December 2015.[4] On December 31, 2016, BHI and Suffolk University ended their relationship, and BHI is currently a "free-standing entity." [5]

State Policy Network

SPN is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 49 states, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., Canada, and the United Kingdom. As of July 2017, SPN's membership totals 153. It is an $83 million right-wing empire as of the 2011 funding documents from SPN itself and each of its state "think tank" members. Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth investigation, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government," reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.[6]

In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"[7]

A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.[8]

Ties to the Koch Brothers

As of July 2017, BHI is listed as a "partner organization" in the Charles Koch Institute's Liberty@Work program.[9]

Koch Wiki

The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

In 2015, The Guardian reported that, "Beacon Hill is associated with a network of ultra-conservative groups working with the American Legislative Exchange Council and funded by patrons of anti-government causes such as the Koch brothers and Searle Freedom Trust."[10]

Please see SPN Ties to ALEC for more.

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.

BHI Policy Studies 1993-2017

BHI policy studies published between 1993-2017 can be downloaded from the Policy Studies section of their website. [11]

BHI research topics Include: Education Assessment, [12] Tax Analysis,[13] Economic Competitiveness,[14] Energy Economics, [15] Government Accountability and Regulation (includes work in the following areas: Antitrust, Energy, Health and Human Services, Government Operations, Project Labor Agreements & Prevailing Wage, Telecommunications),[16] and Labor Economics.[17]

Media articles about BHI's work can be accessed on the "Articles" section of their website: [18]

Renewable energy studies

RGGI

In December 2013 the Guardian reported that the Beacon Hill Institute had sought about $40,000 in funding to carry out an economic analysis to discredit the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, stating in its proposal that "Success will take the form of media recognition, dissemination to stakeholders, and legislative activity that will pare back or repeal RGGI." The proposal was presented for consideration to the Searle Freedom Trust by the State Policy Network. Host university Suffolk said the Institute's grant proposal did not go through the university's approval process and violated the tenets of scientific research. The proposal was not funded.[19]

Maine

In September 2012, Maine Gov. Paul LePage cited a report that said Maine's renewable energy mandate would cost electricity ratepayers $145 million and nearly 1,000 jobs by 2017. The study was done by Beacon Hill. The Washington Post reported that the study has been used to bolster model legislation co-written by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council and The Heartland Institute.

The Beacon Hill Institute's study was republished by the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a conservative advocacy group that used the study's findings to estimate the impact in Maine. The two groups belong to the State Policy Network, the umbrella group for free-market organizations that attempt to influence policy-making in state legislatures. The State Policy Network has received funding from the Koch brothers. The Checks and Balances Project of Washington DC said the Beacon Hill Institute's report has been pushed in 11 other states by groups belonging to the State Policy Network.

LePage's spokesperson Adrienne Bennett said the administration was unaware of the Beacon Hill Institute's backing from fossil fuel interests, and that "The real issue isn't who funded the study. It's that renewable energy and wind energy is more expensive than other sources." In 2011, LePage led an effort to freeze Maine's law that requires power companies to get a portion of their electricity from renewable sources.[20]

New Jersey

In August 2011, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) released a study by Beacon Hill Institute of the plans by the State of New Jersey to develop 1,100 megawatts of wind capacity off its coastline, concluding that the wind farm "will produce net economic costs, raise electricity prices, and dampen economic activity.” The study does not discuss the estimated 5,000 construction and maintenance jobs predicted by a range of other studies, and discounts wind power’s benefit in reducing New Jersey’s import of electricity from other states.[21]

North Carolina

In a 2011 op-ed, Americans for Tax Reform's Grover Norquist cited a study by BHI on North Carolina's renewable energy standards (RES), stating that "The RES in North Carolina, one of 2012’s key battleground states, is projected to reduce real disposable income by $56.8 million and likely be responsible for the loss of 3,592 jobs by 2021." Norquist said that "legislators in states around the country are now working with Americans for Tax Reform to repeal renewable energy mandates in 2012. The iron is hottest to strike in states where Republicans recently took control of both the Legislature and the governorship — including Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania."[22]

BHI's numbers on the impact of state RESs on electricity prices have been disputed by Climate Progress, who say "the data shows that the presence of a state-level renewable energy standard has a virtually zero statistically-significant impact on how much electric rates changed from 2000 to 2010."[23]

Ohio

In September 2011, Ohio State Sen. Kris Jordan introduced a bill (SB216) that would repeal Ohio's renewable portfolio standards, citing a American Tradition Institute and Beacon Hill Institute study arguing that Ohio residents would pay $8.63 billion more for electricity between 2016 and 2025 because of the 12.5% requirement.[24]

Wisconsin

The Beacon Hill Institute collaborated with the free market think tank Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) on a report critiquing the recommendations from a 2007 Wisconsin clean energy task force, including the state's renewable portfolio standards (RPS).

Funding

Between 1998 and 2012, the following donations to BHI:

Personnel

  • David G. Tuerck, Executive Director
  • Paul Bachman, MSIE, Director of Research
  • Jonathan Haughton, Adjunct Scholar
  • Keshab Bhattarai, Adjunct Scholar
  • Xhulia Kanani, Research Assistant

Contact Details

The Beacon Hill Institute
165 Main Street, Suite 306
Medway, MA 02053
Phone: 855-BHI-4550 (855-244-4550)
Email: bhi@beaconhill.org
Website: http://www.beaconhill.org/

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

External links

  • GradingTheStates.org provides critical analysis of the Beacon Hill Institute’s State Competitiveness Report and other "business rankings." Grading the States is a project of the Iowa Policy Project, overseen by economist Peter Fisher, professor emeritus at the University of Iowa.

References

  1. Beacon Hill Institute, "The Ray Shamie Center for Civic Enterprise", Beacon Hill Institute website, Accessed July 2017.
  2. Beacon Hill Institute, "Mission and Vision", Beacon Hill Institute website, Accessed July 2017.
  3. "Threat to Public Education Now Centers on Massachusetts: The Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University", Massachusetts Teachers Association, May 2016.
  4. Laura Krantz, "Suffolk University cuts ties with conservative research group," Boston Globe, December 1, 2015.
  5. Beacon Hill Institute, "History", Beacon Hill Institute website, accessed July 12, 2017.
  6. Rebekah Wilce, Center for Media and Democracy, EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
  7. Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
  8. Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
  9. Charles Koch Institute, Partner Organizations, Charles Koch Institute, 2017.
  10. Suzanne Goldenberg "Lobbyist dubbed Dr Evil behind front groups attacking Obama power rules", The Guardian, February 23, 2015.
  11. Beacon Hill Institute, "Policy Studies"," Beacon Hill Institute website, Accessed July 12, 2017.
  12. "Education Assessment", Beacon Hill website, Accessed on July 17, 2017.
  13. "FaxSheets on Tax Analysis", Beacon Hill website, Accessed on July 17, 2017.
  14. "Economic Competitiveness", Beacon Hill website, Accessed on July 17, 2017.
  15. "Energy Policy Studies", Beacon Hill website, Accessed on July 17, 2017.
  16. "Government Accountability & Regulation Programs", Beacon Hill website, Accessed on July 17, 2017.
  17. "Project Labor Agreements & Prevailing Wages", Beacon Hill website, Accessed on July 17, 2017.
  18. Beacon Hill Institute, "Articles"," Beacon Hill Institute website, Accessed July 17, 2017.
  19. Suzanne Goldberg, "Free-market research group's climate proposal denounced by host university," Guardian, Dec 5, 2013.
  20. By Steve Mistler, "Anti-renewable-energy report cited by LePage was funded by fossil fuel interests," Morning Sentinel, Nov. 26, 2012.
  21. "Koch Brothers Fund Bogus Study Bashing Offshore Wind in New Jersey" Climate Progress, Aug. 17, 2011.
  22. Grover Norquist and Patrick Gleason, "Rethink renewable energy mandates" Politico, December 18, 2011.
  23. Stephen Lacey, "Grover Norquist Spreads Lies About Renewable Energy Standards" Climate Progress, Dec. 19, 2011.
  24. John Monaghan, "Research & Commentary: Ohio Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard" Heartland Institute, January 31, 2012.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 25.5 25.6 25.7 "Beacon Hill Institute", Conservative Transparency website , Accessed July 17, 2017.