On Wednesday April 10, President Obama released his budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2014. While this sounds like a rather mundane event, it is an exciting time for political junkies. Why? Because the budget gives the President a chance to lay out his vision for the federal government in its entirety. He must look at both the big picture and the finite details of what role he sees the federal government playing in the coming year. It’s all there in the numbers!
Members of Obama’s administration have already started taking to the airwaves to promote the priorities contained within the budget, and will continue to do so. They will also be frequent visitors to Capitol Hill over the coming weeks, testifying in front of various committees about the choices that they made in putting together the spending plan. Given that we have a divided government with divided powers, though, the President’s proposed budget is just a vision. In the end, it is up to Congress to actually produce and pass a budget for any given year and deliver that to the President for his signature.
So what’s President Obama’s vision for science? It is actually quite good, given the spending caps he must work within. The big winners are:
- The National Science Foundation with a proposed budget of $7.6 billion an 8.4% increase ($593 million) above 2012
- The Department of Energy Office of Science with a proposed budget of $5 billion+, an increase of 5.7 percent above 2012
- The National Institute of Standards and Technology labs, with a proposed budget of $754 million, a 21% increase above 2012.
- Government-wide STEM programs, which would see an investment of $3.1 billion if President Obama has his way, a 6.7% increase over 2012. The budget also proposes consolidating the 226 STEM programs down to 112.
While not a “big winner,” the National Institutes of Health fared pretty well, with a proposed budget of $31.3 billion, a 1.5% increase above 2012.
All comparisons are to the Fiscal Year 2012, given that final numbers are not yet available for 2013, due to the fact that that budget was just approved at the end of March.
So that’s the big picture. More to come on individual agency budgets in the coming weeks!