Preliminary Budget Details Released
President Barack Obama released his preliminary budget request on Tuesday. Already a month late, this election year spending blueprint is primarily for show and stands little to no chance of implementation in a divided and bitterly partisan Congress. That said, it is a window into the Administration’s priorities. According to our federal consultants, Lewis-Burke Associates, the budget represents a “mixed picture” that reflects largely flat spending while “tout(ing) the virtues of research and education to enable the economy of the future.”
Winners in the President’s budget include his signature neuroscience (BRAIN) initiative, agriculture innovation institutes, and exascale computing, which have bipartisan appeal. Losers in the budget are reflective of larger downward budgetary pressures and include cuts to hospital payments such as indirect medical education (IME) and defense basic research. The Department of Education portion of the budget reflects the president's efforts to increase college access and completion (through the creation of College Opportunity and Graduation Bonus grants and increased funding for the First in the World program), as well as his intentions to move forward with developing the college rating system by including funding for data collection. LBA’s analysis of the federal budget has been distributed to university Trustees, leaders, and advocacy group members.
If you would like a copy of their analysis, please contact Melissa Haas in our DC Office of Governmental Relations.
Programmatic Requests To Be Submitted Next Week
Next Tuesday, OGR will be submitting a letter from University of Illinois President Robert Easter to the Illinois Congressional delegation articulating the University’s agency and program priorities for Fiscal Year 2015. Due to the late passage of the omnibus appropriations bill and the delayed release of the President’s budget request, this year’s appropriations timeline has been drastically condensed. If there are unique funding lines in the federal budget that are important to your campus, college, or unit—and you have not yet been contacted by OGR—please contact Jon Pyatt immediately.
COMPETES Bill to Move in House
House Republicans intend to introduce their FIRST (Federal Investments in Research, Science and Technology) Act next week. A change of direction from the first two America COMPETES Acts, this bill may prioritize some areas of basic research in important scientific research agencies, including the National Science Foundation. We are hearing that two major concerns of the university community—funding levels and the role of social science—may be addressed in the final bill. A markup in the House Science committee will soon follow.
Illinois has three members on that committee: Reps. Randy Hultgren, Dan Lipinski, and Robin Kelly. Lipinski also serves as the ranking Democrat on the research subcommittee. Both Lipinski and Hultgren are recent Science Coalition “Champion of Science” awardees. OGR will work with these members to advance university priorities as the bill moves through the committee process.
ILLINOIS IN DC
Dean Hauser Shares ACES’ Strengths
The Dean of Urbana's College of Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences (ACES), Robert Hauser, was in DC earlier this week as part of an annual Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching (CARET) meeting. CARET, a national grassroots organization composed of volunteer representatives from each state, advocates for support and understanding of agricultural issues important to the land-grant university system. In addition to educating offices about CARET, Dean Hauser shared updates on ACES's collaborations with industry, its risk management and water research strengths, and transformational NIFA research at ACES. They met with Illinois' three House Members on the Agriculture Committee, Rep. Rodney Davis, Rep. Cheri Bustos, and the office of Rep. Bill Enyart, as well as with Rep. John Shimkus and the office of Sen. Dick Durbin.
Also, with this year marking the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, which established the nationwide Cooperative Extension System, there was a celebration sponsored by APLU on Capitol Hill. Be sure to check out the University of Illinois Extension's 100-year commemoration website which highlights some of the milestones over the past century: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/100yrs/.
Urbana Engineering’s Bill King Touts Advanced Manufacturing to Hill, Pentagon
Following last week's annoucement about the Digital Lab for Manufacturing (Digital Lab), Dr. William King, Bliss Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Urbana and Chief Technology Officer for the Digital Lab, returned to DC to meet with the Department of Defense (DOD) and Illinois Members of Congress. He also participated in an advanced manufacturing briefing sponsored by the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition.
He met with Reps. Cheri Bustos, Bill Enyart, Mike Quigley, and Tammy Duckworth as well as with staff from other congressional offices. During the Hill meetings, he explained some of the anticipated early successes of the Digital Lab and how it will make American manufacturers more competitive, create jobs, and save the Pentagon money. He also discussed how stakeholders in Members' Congressional districts can more fully plug into the effort.
Brian Cunningham Named Fellow by National Academy of Inventors
At the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) 2014 Annual Meeting in Virginia, Interim Director of Urbana's Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory, Dr. Brian Cunningham, was inducted as a 2013 NAI fellow.
NAI, a non-profit organization composed of U.S. and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutions, encourages innovation by honoring and supporting inventors with patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Urbana recently joined as a Charter Member Institution.
Jon Pyatt Presents at APLU Session on Advanced Manufacturing
UI Director of Federal Relations Jon Pyatt presented at the APLU Council on Governmental Relations Winter Meeting on a panel discussion about how universities are taking center stage in the advanced manufacturing institutes. Pyatt gave APLU government relations representatives an inside look at how the Digital Lab came together and how to successfully advocate for advanced manufacturing priorities with Congress. The discussion also centered on various bills which have been introduced that would engage universities to help revitalize American manufacturing.
Jon Pyatt and Melissa Haas
OGR Federal Relations