yea and if they accept the jerks offer it will mean a $150 million tax on the rest of us!!!

$100 mil science donation pledged State must give $150 mil too, philanthropist says

Kerry Fehr-Snyder The Arizona Republic Feb. 26, 2006 12:00 AM

A local philanthropist is pledging $100 million to Arizona's bioscience industry if the state Legislature agrees to contribute $150 million over the next four years.

Jerry Bisgrove, chairman of Stardust Charitable Group, has pledged to give $25 million in each of the four years to boost research, development and other areas in bioscience without spelling out how it should be spent. His main stipulation: that the Legislature earmark $50 million of taxpayer money for the same purpose this year and pass a current bill that would add $100 million over the next four years. The bill requires renewal each year.

Bisgrove's pledge would be the largest single private donation to the bioscience industry in Arizona. It would follow a separate $50 million gift toward bioscience from the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust in January. The trust announced it would donate the money over five years to develop "personalized medicine" research and businesses in Maricopa County.

Bisgrove's group is funded by Stardust Companies Real Estate Group, one of the state's largest land bankers and residential-lot developers.

"I'm only a steward. I don't view this as my money. It was given to me, and by God, I'm going to do something with it," Bisgrove said.

Asked whether he thinks the Legislature will agree to the funding, Bisgrove said, "I have every reason to believe it's going to be done."

House Speaker Jim Weiers has thrown his support behind the bill. In a prepared statement, Weiers said, "In business, you have to rely on sound investment opportunities as well as your instincts. With this initiative, I truly believe that we have the potential to bring solid economic opportunity to the state."

A former trucking executive, Bisgrove made his fortune in transportation and real estate. He moved to the Valley in the 1980s after selling his New Jersey-based trucking firm, Red Star Express, to TNT North America.

In 1992, Bisgrove started Stardust and began buying large tracts of raw land, preparing them for development and then reselling them to developers. The company funds Stardust Charitable Group, which has given $60 million to non-profit groups since 1993. Its high-profile efforts have been in providing affordable housing and helping working families. It recently donated $7.5 million to efforts to treat cancer, autism and bipolar disorder.

"Stardust is an investor, not a grantmaker," Bisgrove said in discussing his pledge. He added that he wanted to give the money to Arizona's bioscience industry but "not as a lone wolf." Without the state taxpayer support, the private donation would go away, he said.

"Stardust is coming in and matching the state's money, not the other way around."

Martin Shultz, chairman of the Arizona BioScience Roadmap Steering Committee, said he is confident the Legislature will fund the bill, HB 2477, which won unanimous approval from one committee last week.

"The idea, frankly, is bigger than the politics," said Shultz, also a lobbyist for Arizona Public Service Co.

Many leaders support the idea of building the state's bioscience industry after seeing firsthand how the industry helped transform the economies of Ireland, Singapore and other communities, said Don Budinger of the Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona. Budinger is among those who organized Science Foundation Arizona, a recently formed non-profit group that would oversee Bisgrove's donation.

Weiers, Arizona State University President Michael Crow and others went to Singapore last year to see the country's economic progress.

Bisgrove said that while he and others expect "measurable outcomes" from his investment, he doesn't plan to second-guess leaders on how it's spent.

"When I let go of that money, it's gone. Quite honestly, if they take some of the Stardust money and it doesn't work perfectly, so what?" Bisgrove said.

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