Good News on U.S. Science Funding
Posted by mattusmaximus on February 7, 2009
Win!!! 😀 Just a quick follow up on my earlier post – Time to Invest in Science. It seems that the campaign launched by our friends at Science Debate may have had some positive effect. I received the following notification from them today in an email…
Well it’s been a long, long day with thousands of , but we are happy to report that your efforts, and those of the rest of the U.S. science and technology community, have paid off in a big way – for the time being.
Senators Nelson, Collins, Lieberman and Specter held a press conference earlier this evening, also crediting Senator Snowe, and followed up by Senate Majority Leader Reid, declaring a compromise bill has been reached on the stimulus package. You can read the exact line items of the bill here in an xls document… This is a terrific $3 billion victory for U.S. Science – thank you!
This bill will be voted on by the full Senate on Monday. It could still fail then. But it reportedly has the strong support of President Obama, and if it passes it will form the (likely strongly prejudiced) basis for conference committee negotiations.
As for justifying why having such science funding increases in the stimulus package is important, the email goes on to say…
we believe scientific research is one of the best investments in stimulating economic growth in both the short and long term that this country can possibly make in a science-dominated global economy. Here are some ways these contemplated amounts are stimulative:
1. Literally ‘shovel ready’: the American Physical Society identified billions in ‘shovel ready’ science programs that include immediate construction items associated with science. So, much of what is being targeted as ‘research’ and therefore not stimulative, is in fact direct stimulus for construction and expenditures.
2. Stimulus money for federal science funding agencies will translate into support for thousands of graduate students and postdocs this year and next year, as faculty who get funded hire them. This is a good way to create high quality jobs right away and to invest in the future at the same time. NSF supports over 2,000 institutions and reaches nearly 200,000 researchers, postdoctoral fellows, trainees, teachers, and students every year.
3. Current economic conditions have hit the states particularly hard. Many are experiencing severe budget constraints and growing job losses. In many regions, universities and colleges are the main employer, and the source of economic growth in local and regional economies. Any additional funding targeted to NSF has an immediate and direct effect on high-quality jobs and economic growth across America.
4. A report, for example, from the Council for Chemical Research concludes that a federal investment of $1 billion in R&D funding in the chemical sciences can be leveraged into $40 billion in GNP and 600,000 jobs. NSF is the principal agency that supports research across all disciplines of science and engineering, including the chemical sciences.
Today I’m breathing a sigh of relief. It looks as if this is a victory for science in the United States – it’s about time we had one like this. Btw, just to let you know, the folks over at Science Debate have been critical to getting the word out to the public about these funding issues. If you aren’t already on their email list or a supporter, I strongly encourage you to get involved. As you can see, it can make a difference.