Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Beaker-Ready Projects? Colleges Have Quite a Few

From proposed animal research laboratories at the University of Arizona, the University of Nebraska and the University of Pennsylvania to empty floors in laboratory buildings at the University of California, Irvine, Ohio State University and Southern Illinois University, colleges across the country have hundreds of shovel- and beaker-ready projects in the sciences that could collectively cost tens of billions and begin within weeks.

Science is a critically important discipline.

When President Obama signed the $787 billion stimulus measure last Tuesday, one of the law’s most surprising provisions was a 36 percent increase in the budget for the National Institutes of Health. The law gives the health institutes $10.4 billion in addition to its annual budget of $29 billion, and the new money must be allocated by September 2010 on grants and other projects that can extend no more than two years.

36% increase, recognizing the importance of science. Monies must be allocated within 19 months and must be spent within two years. Sounds good to me,

The spending increase comes after six years of nearly flat research budgets at the N.I.H., the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and other agencies, and growing desperation at research universities, which depend on the agencies to underwrite much of their scientific faculty and laboratory infrastructure.

Since Bush's Iraq adventure began, such important funding as science and energy were neglected.

The agency must spend $1 billion to support construction projects at universities and $300 million to help buy equipment and scientific instruments. An additional $500 million will be spent on federal buildings, mostly at the N.I.H. campus in Bethesda, Md. University administrators said they were eager to get the money and promised that any grants they received would immediately stimulate local economies.

Immediately stimulate local economies; sounds good, no? Sounds good, yes.

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