Right-Wing Funded Groups Battle New State Governors

If the corporate-funded influence groups on the Right have their way, there will be no honeymoon for newly elected Democratic governors.

Affiliates of the State Policy Network (SPN), a network of right-wing “think tanks” in 49 states bankrolled by the Kochs and other billionaires and big corporations, have already been deployed to oppose legislation introduced by Democratic governors in states that previously had GOP governors.

Last week the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) wrote about the battle over Medicaid in Wisconsin, where the newly elected Democratic governor, Tony Evers, who replaced the GOP’s Scott Walker, has introduced a measure to expand Medicaid in the state.

The article showed how right-wing “think tanks,” in this case the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) and the Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy (CROWE), and state legislators quickly rolled out a flawed study to exaggerate the costs of Medicaid expansion to the tune of $600 million. The “research” was released without noting that the paper supported the anti-Medicaid expansion position taken by the groups’ major funders: the Bradley Foundation and the Koch brothers.

Minimum Wage Fight in Illinois

In Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker, who defeated Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner, introduced an increase in the state’s minimum wage as one of his first acts. The state’s SPN affiliate, the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI), quickly went on the attack, repeating claims that a rise in the minimum wage reduces jobs, because Illinois would have higher minimum wages than surrounding states. The group does not consider the relative cost of living among Midwestern states, and ignores the experience of nearby Minnesota where 92,600 have directly benefited from the January 1 increase, the Economic Policy Institute reports.

Nonetheless, the Illinois legislature voted along…

Read more