President Obama releases FY14 Budget; members of Oregon delegation support NSF funding

On April 10, President Barack Obama released his budget proposal for the fiscal year 2014.  In what many see as a compromise with Republican leaders, President Obama has sought to replace the indiscriminate 10-year, $1.1 trillion cut brought about by the earlier sequestration with a larger, yet more precise, 10-year, $1.8 trillion alternative cut that affects more specific programs.  Among the programs cut include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Environmental Protection Agency, and NASA.

President Obama also proposed increases to programs that would improve and directly impact the nation’s universities.  The Association of American Universities (AAU) applauded the administration’s efforts to “make science and education investments a top national priority while taking serious steps to reduce budget deficits.”  The budget includes $31 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and $7.6 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF), an increase of nearly $600 million above FY12 budget levels.

The budget also addresses financial aid for students.  It would fully fund Pell grants through FY15.  The budget also includes an expansion to an Income-Based Repayment, or “Pay As You Earn” program that would allow all student borrowers to participate.  The administration also proposes to remove the cap on interest rates by fixing the rate to a 10-year Treasury note, a proposal that is controversial among higher education advocacy coalitions.

With the release of the administration’s budget proposal and action by Congress on federal budgets, members of both chambers have started to circulate “dear colleague” letters in support of funding priorities. Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon), Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-Oregon) signed onto a letter urging congressional budget writers to include $7.626 billion in funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the FY2014 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. The full letter is available online.