Today’s News & Observer has an article featuring the NC Biotechnology Center – noting that the Senate’s budget proposal would eliminate taxpayer funding for the Center, while the House budget includes continued taxpayer support to the tune of $13.6 million.
Last fall, Civitas featured the Biotech Center as a Waste of the Week, arguing that taxpayer funds should no longer be directed to the Center:
The Biotech Center receives millions of taxpayer dollars every year. In the last several years, funding has ranged from $19.5 million in FY 2010-11 to $13.6 million for the current fiscal year. And in an all-too common practice among taxpayer-funded nonprofits, the leadership for the Biotech Center is handsomely rewarded.
According the organization’s 2012 IRS documents, CEO Norris Tolson received nearly $300,000 in compensation. Eight other staffers received compensation well above $100,000. Not bad pay for people who don’t do any actual biotech research themselves nor develop any biotech products.
There’s little doubt that the information the Biotech Center provides to those involved in the industry is valuable to those people. But there is no reason the services the Center provides should be considered as a “core function” of state government. Indeed, if the service the Center provides is of value, then the beneficiaries should be the ones to voluntarily pay for the services, instead of taxpayers being forced to subsidize it. Moreover, the Center’s use of taxpayer funds to loan to biotech firms is simply cronyism. Biotech firms seeking funding should do so like the rest of us: find a bank or other lending institution willing to loan them the funds.
No wonder the people at the Biotech Center are lobbying for a continued spot at the taxpayer trough.