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Bush, Wasserman-Schultz debate value of Scripps-Torey Pines-FAU higher ed research partnership

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was in Washington D.C Friday. Bush was testifying before the House Budget Committee on ways to boost the economy. But during the hearing Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz grilled the former Governor about the state’s investment in the Scripps Research Institute in Palm Beach, saying the deal hasn’t produced the number of jobs first estimated and has cost the state money.

 “In reference to the alleged 49 different job training programs, you ask, are they being measured on the success of getting people retrained? Good question. So how, do you think, if we apply your advice to the Scripps deal, that a cost-benefit analysis of $1.2 million dollars of state funds per job would hold up? How can you justify giving away $600 million in public funding with no accountability to a private company?”

Bush defended the funding, saying Scripps isn’t a corporation but a not-for-profit that does research.

“In the life science sector Florida has gone from being at the back of the pack to the top tier status. I’d say we’re about number five or four in research spending. From that perspective, it should be reviewed, I agreed with that. There ought to be an analysis done but I think, for something that’s a work-in-progress, it has been a success, he said.

Bush says he believes research is one of the few areas government should be involved in funding. He says the Scripps partnership with Florida Atlantic University and the Torrey Pines Institute has created several spin-off jobs due to its research functions.

He added that that had the state not invested in research it probably would have spent the money elsewhere, possibly creating recurring deficits.


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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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