Robbing Students To Pay For Corporate Welfare

Continuing the saga of the 9% tuition increase at NDSU, we find out that NDSU will be benefiting from $12 million in new state spending for a completely new program called “Centers for Research Excellence” which is an expansion of the Centers of Excellence. These programs are little more than corporate welfare programs which subsidize private Research and Development efforts.

It didn’t have to be this way, in fact, the North Dakota House of Representatives tried to eliminate the entire program back in February.

Unfortunately, the North Dakota State Senate restored funding to the program, and tacked on the new Centers of Research Excellence program.

According to the North Dakota Commerce Department as of July 2009: 922 jobs directly created at a cost of $21,691 per job created by the Centers of Excellence program. (Based on the $19.9 million spent at that time in 2009.)

If President Obama proposed such a program, the very Republicans that voted to continue and expand this program would be kicking and screaming. The Centers of Excellence are probably the biggest example of Republican hypocrisy that exists in the state, as well as being inappropriately named.

The 2011 legislature ended up increasing the budget for the Centers of Excellence program up to $41 million in ongoing spending and $12 million in “one-time” spending.

To put things in perspective, if this $53 million budget had be used directly to control tuition, the legislature could have reduced tuition by almost 5% across the board.

The legislature felt that growing and expanding this wasteful corporate welfare program was a good idea. As usual, these dollars would have been better spent elsewhere, in this case, for reducing the costs of education for students.

The average taxpayer doesn’t mind spending so much when they know that it is saving someone else money, especially students. These corporate welfare programs end up costing both taxpayers and students, and have very little to show for the money.

The return on investment just isn’t there.

Dustin Gawrylow is the executive director of the North Dakota Taxpayer’s Association. Join their email list here.

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