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Science Funding February 8, 2007

Posted by gordonwatts in politics, science.

The continuing resolution recently made it out of the house. I was a little worried that it would not treat science well by keeping funding levels the same as they were the year before (as is often done in a CR). That turned out not to be the case, fortunately: the house did add additional funds for both the DOE’s Office of Science and also the NSF. While the funds weren’t restored to the full level of the original budget request, they are enough to avert most of the dire consequences. I’m not sure where this is in the Senate, but I hope it makes it out! BTW, check out that first link. I have no idea how the lobbyist from UW managed to decipher that and determine actual break outs. It must take a long time to read that law-speak. And I can see how things could slip in unnoticed!

The president recently sent his budget to congress. And thus we start again. I’m curious to see if congress can complete its job this time. The budget still calls for a doubling of the budgets of the NSF, DOE’s Office of Science, and NIST over 10 years. So, check this out. Bush asks for an increase of $57 billion in various discretionary accounts (science is in that bucket). But he routes almost $3.6 billion to security-related spending — which means about a 1% increase in discretionary spending: way less than inflation. In other words, an overall cut.

But science does fairly well. The key is that lots of other stuff got cut. So this could end up being a fight between science and all the other good stuff that got cut, I suppose. The NSF sees a 6.8% increase. The DOE’s Office of Science is looking at a 7% increase. Fusion science gets a large chunk of that (hmm, think that came up at dinner the other night). All of this is great — more science funding is fantastic. But now congress will argue over it, so we’ll see how things make out in the end. If Congress gets its job done, the budget bills will be passed by Oct 1st. We’ll see.


1. Matt - February 9, 2007

It is nice to see science get better funding in the 08 budget, though naturally still not as high as we would all like. And I imagine a number of researchers are a bit skittish about starting up new expensive projects due to last years budgetary idiocy.

The elephant in the room is still the bloated military budget, which takes up more then 50% of all discressionary spending. This amounts to $600+ billion for fiscal year 2008, and is the first time the presidents budget has included Iraq/Afghanistan appropriations with the actual budget. I am imagine there will be another supplementary appropriations bill for war spending sometime in the coming months after the budget is finalized.

The biggest drain on improving science funding as well as education in this country are the trillions of dollars in tax cuts and the bloated war budget. How I long for the days of pay-go.

Sorry Gordon to plop an overty political rant on here. Budgetary matters always end up sliding down that hill.

2. Matt - February 9, 2007

NASA budget is out, via Dynamic Cats, and it looks to be a bit of a flop.

3. gordonwatts - February 10, 2007

Yes. The whole “man in space” thing is a bit misguided — and as a result many scientific programs are getting cut there. Rather depressing to many of us.

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