Congress Finishes Work on Key Bills and Adjourns
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY: Any "fine print" concerning the FY 2000 appropriations is not yet available. (The five appropriations bills were combined into one bill of 2,000 pages, which is now being printed.) It is known that the Advanced Technology Program received $130 million, a 27.0% cut. A White House summary stated, "While the House proposed eliminating the program, the final budget will allow ATP funding for an additional $51 million in new awards." The NIST construction budget fared much better, almost doubling over FY 1999.
MATH AND SCIENCE EDUCATION: The Eisenhower Professional Development State Grants Program received $335 million, the same as last year and as the original request.
ACROSS-THE-BOARD CUT IN FY 2000: The Republican congressional leadership pushed hard for an across-the board cut; the administration pushed hard against it. They compromised on a 0.38 percent cut in discretionary spending. Department and agency heads will be able to decide how to apply this cut within their overall budget, although no one program can be cut by more than 15%. An example of the impact of this cut is the National Science Foundation: its $3,910 million budget was reduced by $14.858 million. Before this reduction, the total NSF budget was up 6.5%.
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: The NIH budget rose by 15% to $17.9 billion. To help balance the books, $4 billion of this spending is delayed until September 29, 2000, pushing the cost into FY 2001. The original plan was to delay $7.5 billion, which Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala and medical researchers vigorously opposed.
R&E TAX CREDIT: After much negotiation between Congress and the Administration over how long this credit should be extended, a settlement was reached. In the words of the House Ways and Means Committee summary, the bill "Extends the research credit and include an increase in the alternative incremental credit. Research credits attributable to the period after June 30, 1999, and before October 1, 2000, could not be taken into account by the taxpayer until October 1, 2000. The expired provision generally provides for a 20% tax credit of qualified research expenditures. Extension: 5 years, through 6/30/04."
EMPLOYER-PROVIDED EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE: Also in the tax bill was an extension for this exclusion. According to the Ways and Means Committee: "Extends the tax exclusion for employer-provided educational experience for undergraduate-level courses only. Generally, educational expenses paid by an employer for its employees are generally deductible by the employer. Extension: approximately 2.5 years, through 12/31/01."
Richard M. Jones
Public Information Division
American Institute of Physics