FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

House Economic Stimulus Bill Would Provide Billions in New Science, Energy, and Education Dollars

Richard M. Jones
Number 4 - January 15, 2009  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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This morning the House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rep. Dave Obey (D-WI) released a 13-page summary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009. The legislation would provide billions of dollars in new science, technology, energy and education funding this year. In doing so, it reflects the views of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the Democratic leadership on the role of science, technology, and innovation. As detailed in FYI #3, Speaker Pelosi stated, "We all know that in business or in science or in education, capital attracts talent. You have to have the labs. And talent attracts capital. And so we want to make very wise investments in this recovery package so it is about innovation." This $825 billion proposed bill demonstrates the leadership's commitment to their approach.

The following are excepts from the House Appropriations Committee's summary:

"The economy is in a crisis not seen since the Great Depression.

"Credit is frozen, consumer purchasing power is in decline, in the last four months the country has lost 2 million jobs and we are expected to lose another 3 to 5 million in the next year.

"Conservative economist Mark Zandi was blunt: 'the economy is shutting down.'

"In the next two weeks, the Congress will be considering the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009. This package is the first crucial step in a concerted effort to create and save 3 to 4 million jobs, jumpstart our economy, and begin the process of transforming it for the 21st century with $275 billion in economic recovery tax cuts and $550 billion in thoughtful and carefully targeted priority investments with unprecedented accountability measures built in.

"The package contains targeted efforts in:

Clean, Efficient, American Energy

Transforming our Economy with Science and Technology

Modernizing Roads, Bridges, Transit and Waterways

Education for the 21st Century

Tax Cuts to Make Work Pay and Create Jobs

Lowering Healthcare Costs

Helping Workers Hurt by the Economy

Saving Public Sector Jobs and Protect Vital Services"

"Our short term task is to try to prevent the loss of millions of jobs and get our economy moving. The long term task is to make the needed investments that restore the ability of average middle income families to increase their income and build a decent future for their children."

The committee's summary states the following under "Executive Summary":

"This plan targets investments to key areas that will create and preserve good jobs at the same time as it is strengthening the ability of this economy to become more efficient and produce more opportunities for employment." Nine major components are listed, among which are:

"Transform our Economy with Science and Technology: We need to put scientists to work looking for the next great discovery, creating jobs in cutting-edge-technologies, and making smart investments that will help businesses in every community succeed in a global economy. For every dollar invested in broadband the economy sees a ten-fold return on that investment.

"$10 billion for science facilities, research, and instrumentation.

"$6 billion to expand broadband internet access so businesses in rural and other underserved areas can link up to the global economy."

"Clean, Efficient, American Energy: To put people back to work today and reduce our dependence on foreign oil tomorrow, we will strengthen efforts directed at doubling renewable energy production and renovate public buildings to make them more energy efficient.

"$32 billion to transform the nation’s energy transmission, distribution, and production systems by allowing for a smarter and better grid and focusing investment in renewable technology.

"$6 billion to repair public housing and make key energy efficiency retrofits.

"$6 billion to weatherize modest-income homes."

"Education for the 21st Century: To enable more children to learn in 21st century classrooms, labs, and libraries to help our kids compete with any worker in the world, this package provides:

"$41 billion to local school districts through Title I ($13 billion), IDEA ($13 billion), a new School Modernization and Repair Program ($14 billion), and the Education Technology program ($1 billion).

"$79 billion in state fiscal relief to prevent cutbacks to key services, including $39 billion to local school districts and public colleges and universities distributed through existing state and federal formulas, $15 billion to states as bonus grants as a reward for meeting key performance measures, and $25 billion to states for other high priority needs such as public safety and other critical services, which may include education.

"$15.6 billion to increase the Pell grant by $500.

"$6 billion for higher education modernization."

The committee summary then provides details on the bill's components, three of which are excerpted below:

"TRANSFORMING OUR ECONOMY WITH SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

"We need to put scientists to work looking for the next great discovery, creating jobs in cutting-edge technologies and making smart investments that will help businesses in every community succeed in a global economy.

"Broadband to Give Every Community Access to the Global Economy

"Wireless and Broadband Grants: $6 billion for broadband and wireless services in underserved areas to strengthen the economy and provide business and job opportunities in every section of America with benefits to e-commerce, education, and healthcare. For every dollar invested in broadband the economy sees a ten-fold return on that investment.

"Scientific Research

"National Science Foundation: $3 billion, including $2 billion for expanding employment opportunities in fundamental science and engineering to meet environmental challenges and to improve global economic competitiveness, $400 million to build major research facilities that perform cutting edge science, $300 million for major research equipment shared by institutions of higher education and other scientists, $200 million to repair and modernize science and engineering research facilities at the nation’s institutions of higher education and other science labs, and $100 million is also included to improve instruction in science, math and engineering.

"National Institutes of Health Biomedical Research: $2 billion, including $1.5 billion for expanding good jobs in biomedical research to study diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, and heart disease - NIH is currently able to fund less than 20% of approved applications - and $500 million to implement the repair and improvement strategic plan developed by the NIH for its campuses.

"University Research Facilities: $1.5 billion for NIH to renovate university research facilities and help them compete for biomedical research grants. The National Science Foundation estimates a maintenance backlog of $3.9 billion in biological science research space. Funds are awarded competitively.

"Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: $462 million to enable CDC to complete its Buildings and Facilities Master Plan, as well as renovations and construction needs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

"Department of Energy: $1.9 billion for basic research into the physical sciences including high-energy physics, nuclear physics, and fusion energy sciences and improvements to DOE laboratories and scientific facilities. $400 million is for the Advanced Research Project Agency – Energy to support high-risk, high-payoff research into energy sources and energy efficiency.

"NASA: $600 million, including $400 million to put more scientists to work doing climate change research, including Earth science research recommended by the National Academies, satellite sensors that measure solar radiation critical to understanding climate change, and a thermal infrared sensor to the Landsat Continuing Mapper necessary for water management, particularly in the western states; $150 million for research, development, and demonstration to improve aviation safety and Next Generation air traffic control (NextGen); and $50 million to repair NASA centers damaged by hurricanes and floods last year.

"Biomedical Advanced Research and Development, Pandemic Flu, and Cyber Security: $900 million to prepare for a pandemic influenza, support advanced development of medical countermeasures for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, and for cyber security protections at HHS.

"National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Satellites and Sensors: $600 million for satellite development and acquisitions, including climate sensors and climate modeling.

"National Institute of Standards and Technology: $300 million for competitive construction grants for research science buildings at colleges, universities, and other research organizations and $100 million to coordinate research efforts of laboratories and national research facilities by setting interoperability standards for manufacturing.

"Agricultural Research Service: $209 million for agricultural research facilities across the country. ARS has a list of deferred maintenance work at facilities of roughly $315 million.

"U.S. Geological Survey: $200 million to repair and modernize U.S.G.S. science facilities and equipment, including improvements to laboratories, earthquake monitoring systems, and computing capacity."

"Creating Small Business Opportunity

"Small Business Credit: $430 million for new direct lending and loan guarantee authorities to make loans more attractive to lenders and free up capital. The number of loans guaranteed under the SBA’s 7(a) business loan program was down 57% in the first quarter of this year compared to last.

"Rural Business-Cooperative Service: $100 million for rural business grants and loans to guarantee $2 billion in loans for rural businesses at a time of unprecedented demand due to the credit crunch. Private sector lenders are increasingly turning to this program to help businesses get access to capital.

"[NIST] Industrial Technology Services: $100 million, including $70 million for the Technology Innovation Program to accelerate research in potentially revolutionary technologies with high job growth potential, and $30 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnerships to help small and mid-size manufacturers compete globally by providing them with access to technology.

"Economic Development Assistance: $250 million to address long-term economic distress in urban industrial cores and rural areas distributed based on need and ability to create jobs and attract private investment. EDA leverages $10 in private investments for $1 in federal funds."

 

Another section is entitled:

"CREATE JOBS WITH CLEAN, EFFICIENT, AMERICAN ENERGY"

The summary states: "To put people back to work today and reduce our dependence on foreign oil tomorrow, we will make investments aimed at doubling renewable energy production and renovate public buildings to make them more energy efficient. America’s energy shortcomings present a huge opportunity to put people to work in ways that will transform our economy.

"Reliable, Efficient Electricity Grid: $11 billion for research and development, pilot projects, and federal matching funds for the Smart Grid Investment Program to modernize the electricity grid making it more efficient, secure, and reliable and build new power lines to transmit clean, renewable energy from sources throughout the nation.

"Renewable Energy Loan Guarantees: $8 billion for loans for renewable energy power generation and transmission projects.

"GSA Federal Buildings: $6.7 billion for renovations and repairs to federal buildings including at least $6 billion focused on increasing energy efficiency and conservation. Projects are selected based on GSA’s ready-to-go priority list.

"Local Government Energy Efficiency Block Grants: $6.9 billion to help state and local governments make investments that make them more energy efficient and reduce carbon emissions.

"Energy Efficiency Housing Retrofits: $2.5 billion for a new program to upgrade HUD sponsored low-income housing to increase energy efficiency, including new insulation, windows, and furnaces. Funds will be competitively awarded.

"Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Research: $2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research, development, demonstration, and deployment activities to foster energy independence, reduce carbon emissions, and cut utility bills. Funds are awarded on a competitive basis to universities, companies, and national laboratories.

"Advanced Battery Loans and Grants: $2 billion for the Advanced Battery Loan Guarantee and Grants Program, to support U.S. manufacturers of advanced vehicle batteries and battery systems. America should lead the world in transforming the way automobiles are powered.

"Energy Efficiency Grants and Loans for Institutions: $1.5 billion for energy sustainability and efficiency grants and loans to help school districts, institutes of higher education, local governments, and municipal utilities implement projects that will make them more energy efficient.

"Home Weatherization: $6.2 billion to help low-income families reduce their energy costs by weatherizing their homes and make our country more energy efficient.

"Smart Appliances: $300 million to provide consumers with rebates for buying energy efficient Energy Star products to replace old appliances, which will lower energy bills.

"GSA Federal Fleet: $600 million to replace older vehicles owned by the federal government with alternative fuel automobiles that will save on fuel costs and reduce carbon emissions.

"Electric Transportation: $200 million for a new grant program to encourage electric vehicle technologies.

"Cleaning Fossil Energy: $2.4 billion for carbon capture and sequestration technology demonstration projects. This funding will provide valuable information necessary to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere from industrial facilities and fossil fuel power plants.

"Department of Defense Research: $350 million for research into using renewable energy to power weapons systems and military bases.

"Alternative Buses and Trucks: $400 million to help state and local governments purchase efficient alternative fuel vehicles to reduce fuel costs and carbon emissions.

"Industrial Energy Efficiency: $500 million for energy efficient manufacturing demonstration projects.

"Diesel Emissions Reduction: $300 million for grants and loans to state and local governments for projects that reduce diesel emissions, benefitting public health and reducing global warming. This includes technologies to retrofit emission exhaust systems on school buses, replace engines and vehicles, and establish anti-idling programs. 70% of the funds go to competitive grants and 30% funds grants to states with approved programs. Last year EPA was able to fund only 27% of the applications received."

Another section of the summary is entitled:

"EDUCATION FOR THE 21ST CENTURY"

It states: "We will put people to work building 21st century classrooms, labs, and libraries to help our kids compete with any worker in the world.

"21st Century Classrooms

"School Construction: $20 billion, including $14 billion for K-12 and $6 billion for higher education, for renovation and modernization, including technology upgrades and energy efficiency improvements. Also includes $100 million for school construction in communities that lack a local property tax base because they contain non-taxable federal lands such as military bases or Indian reservations, and $25 million to help charter schools build, obtain, and repair schools.

"Education Technology: $1 billion for 21st century classrooms, including computer and science labs and teacher technology training.

"Higher Education: Tuition is up, unemployment is up, and as a result more people are choosing to go to school to upgrade their skills and more of these students need student aid. This investment addresses those short term needs while investing in our nation’s future economic strength.

"Pell Grants: $15.6 billion to increase the maximum Pell Grant by $500, from $4,850 to $5,350.

"College Work-Study: $490 million to support undergraduate and graduate students who work.

"Student Loan Limit Increase: Increases limits on unsubsidized Stafford loans by $2,000.

"Student Aid Administration: $50 million to help the Department of Education administer surging student aid programs while navigating the changing student loan environment.

"K-12 Education: As states begin tackling a projected $350 billion in budget shortfalls these investments will prevent cuts to critical education programs and services.

"IDEA Special Education: $13 billion for formula grants to increase the federal share of special education costs and prevent these mandatory costs from forcing states to cut other areas of education.

"Title I Help for Disadvantaged Kids: $13 billion for grants to help disadvantaged kids in nearly every school district and more than half of all public schools reach high academic standards.

"Statewide Data Systems: $250 million for competitive grants to states to design and develop data systems that analyze individual student data to find ways to improve student achievement, providing teachers and administrators with effective tools.

"Education for Homeless Children and Youth: $66 million for formula grants to states to provide services to homeless children including meals and transportation when high unemployment and home foreclosures have created an influx of homeless kids.

"Improving Teacher Quality: $300 million, including $200 million for competitive grants to school districts and states to provide financial incentives for teachers and principals who raise student achievement and close the achievement gaps in high-need schools and $100 million for competitive grants to states to address teacher shortages and modernize the teaching workforce.

"Early Childhood Development

"Child Care Development Block Grant: $2 billion to provide child care services for an additional 300,000 children in low-income families while their parents go to work. Today only one out of seven eligible children receives care.

"Head Start: $2.1 billion to provide comprehensive development services to help 110,000 additional children succeed in school. Funds are distributed based on need. Only about half of all eligible preschoolers and less than 3 percent of eligible infants and toddlers participate in Head Start.

"IDEA Infants and Families: $600 million for formula grants to help states serve children with disabilities age 2 and younger."

The committee summary states: "There are no earmarks in this package."

 

The entire statement may be viewed here.

The congressional leadership expects to send President-Elect Obama this bill by the middle of February.

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
rjones@aip.org
301-209-3095