NEW YORK, Feb 28 – Critics of President George W. Bush’s smaller-than-hoped-for $2.8 billion increase to $23.1 billion in the proposed NIH budget for fiscal year 2002 may be even more disappointed by the spending packages earmarked for other agencies that support genomics research.
According to Bush’s budget proposal, the National Science Foundation would only receive a 2.3 percent increase to $4.5 billion, compared with an estimated $4.4 billion in fiscal year 2001. The modest increase comes after a 12.8 percent hike the previous year, based on the estimated 2001 figure.
Politicians and industry watchers have cautioned that slight increases for institutes that promote basic research could hamper scientific progress.
“A very high percentage of fundamental breakthroughs happens in fundamental mathematics…Not at NIH,” former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich recently told attendees at the BIO CEO Investor Conference in New York. He added that Congress should have lobbied harder for more support for agencies, such as the NSF, that support basic research at the time that it secured a doubling in the NIH budget.
President Bush also proposed to cut the Department of Energy’s budget by 3.6 percent to $19 billion, from $19.7 billion in fiscal year 2001. Last year’s budget of $19.7 million represented a 10.7 percent increase over the previous year.
The United States Department of Agriculture also faces a reduction according to Bush’s proposed budget. According to the blueprint, the USDA would receive $17.9 billion, substantially less than the $19.4 billion it received in 2001.