Beacon Hill Institute
|Type||Public Policy Think Tank|
|Focus||State Tax Policy|
|Headquarters||8 Ashburton Place on Beacon Hill|
|David G. Tuerck|
The Beacon Hill Institute (BHI) is the research arm of the Department of Economics at Suffolk University in Boston. It was founded in 1991 by businessman and Republican politician Ray Shamie. The institute, considered to be fiscally conservative, draws on faculty and student resources to analyze issues. They distribute research to interested citizens and to opinion leaders and policy makers through various print and electronic media, including its quarterly newsletter, BHI NewsLink; policy studies; BHI FaxSheets; policy forums; opinion editorials; radio and TV interviews; and its web site.
The institute describes itself as "grounded in the principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility and free markets", and has accepted funding from conservative foundations such as the Castle Rock Foundation (funded by the Coors family) and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.
BHI publications and events have been the subject of more than 1,000 reports, stories and opinion pieces in major newspapers and magazines throughout the United States, including The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Christian Science Monitor, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, New Republic, Newsweek, The New York Times, U.S. News and World Report, Wall Street Journal and Washington Times. Coverage in the electronic media includes ABC World News Tonight, C-SPAN, CBS Evening News, CNBC, Fox News, MSNBC, National Public Radio and all major Boston radio and TV stations as well as AP, UPI, Reuters, and Bloomberg wire services.
A prominent academic members of the Institute is author and estate law expert Charles Rounds, Jr..
BHI specializes in the development of economic and statistical models for policy analysis. These include STAMP and LAMP, computer generalized equilibrium models, that are frequently used in BHI analysis of state and local tax policy issues. These models have been criticized by Penn Future and Alberta H. Charney, Ph.D. of Arizona University for being proprietary "black boxes" that produces "outlier" results when compared to the more commonly used IMPLAN or REMI statistical models.
Controversy and critcism
Flawed reports attacking Renewable Portfolio Standards
The Beacon Hill Institute has been criticized for producing a series of flawed reports attacking state clean energy policies. Frank Ackerman, a Harvard PhD and Senior Economist with Synapse Energy Economics, Inc., said the Beacon Hill Institute models:
- contained “wild overstatement(s)” of the cost of wind energy;
- assumed that expensive backup capacity was always needed and running when wind energy was used;
- inflated the price of new transmission capacity;
- exaggerated how much energy use per customer will be needed compared with the widely-cited Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook, and
- overestimated job losses due to assumption of “hypersensitivity to tax rates.”
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has used the BHI studies in an effort to eliminate state standards for renewable energy. Both Beacon Hill Institute and ALEC have financial connections to fossil fuel interests who would benefit from eliminating clean energy policies.
Grant request controversy
Beacon Hill Institute has been under pressure by its host, Suffolk University, after language submitting a grant request that concluded economic research findings before performing any research. The grant was submitted to The Searle Foundation, a prominent conservative foundation, in 2013. The request showed that the Beacon Hill Institute intended to pursue research with the express goal of eliminating climate regulations, stating: “Success will take the form of media recognition, dissemination to stakeholders, and legislative activity that will pare back or repeal RGGI.” RGGI refers to the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a carbon-reduction initiative in the US northeast.
Suffolk University later issued a statement saying BHI had not consulted its host university about the grant proposal, against the university’s rules, and that it would not have authorized the grant proposal as conceived by BHI. The statement further said the research was against the university’s mission. However the university continues to support BHI's efforts by approving similar grant applications resulting in similar studies.
The grant proposal, which sought $38,825 to undermine or overturn RGGI, was submitted to Searle Freedom Trust (a leading funder of conservative and libertarian causes) on behalf of Beacon Hill Institute by the State Policy Network (SPN). SPN is a network of state-level think tanks that have published analyses on clean energy policies and other issues that have come under partisan attacks from climate change advocacy publications such as the Guardian.
- "What They are Saying About Governor Mitt Romney". 2007-01-05. Archived from the original on 6 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
- "Report calling for civilian flaggers to replace police stirs up a hornet's nest". SouthCoastToday.com. 2004-11-21. Retrieved 2007-12-07.
- About Beacon Hill Institute
- "Mission and Vision". Beacon Hill Institute. Retrieved 2007-12-10.
- "Media Transparency.org's listing for the Beacon Hill Institute". Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "Skeptics blast study making energy claims.". Portland Press Herald. 2012-11-26. Retrieved 2011-05-13.
- "Koch Brothers fund bogus studies to kill renewable energy". Huffington Post. 2012-12-07. Retrieved 2014-05-13.
- "Fact Checking ALEC's Attacks on Ohio's Clean Energy Standards". Union of Concerned Scientists. 2013-10-11. Retrieved 2014-05-13.
- "Not-so-smart ALEC: How the lobbying group uses bad data to fight clean energy". Grist.org. 2013-02-23. Retrieved 2014-05-13.
- "A battle is looming over renewable energy, and fossil fuel interests are losing". The Washington Post. 2014-04-25. Retrieved 2014-05-13.
- "Free-market research group's climate proposal denounced by host university". The Guardian. 2013-12-05. Retrieved 2014-11-04.
- "Is IKEA the new model for the conservative movement?". The New Yorker. 2013-11-15. Retrieved 2014-05-13.
- Beacon Hill Institute
- What is STAMP?
- The Beacon Hill Institute’s Tax Analysis Modeling Program: A Response to Charney
- Response to: Beacon Hill Institute's Tax Analysis Modeling Program: A Response to Charney
- An Appeal to Facts in a “Fact Check”: A Response to the Union of Concerned Scientists Critique of BHI’s Renewable Portfolio Studies
- Additional responses to critics