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SPIE applauds Obama budget support for science and education

17 February 2011

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- SPIE leaders said today they are encouraged by the support for U.S. science R&D budgets and education programs in the proposed 2012 budget released Monday by President Obama.

The President's budget announcement followed the release of a 2012 budget proposal last week by House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-Kentucky) that aims to cut $100 billion compared to funding levels approved for 2011.

The Obama budget reflects the recognition that today's investments in research, development, and discovery will give rise to jobs and industries tomorrow, said John Holdren, the President's science and technology advisor and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. As a result, the Administration's budget calls for strategic increases in science and technology enterprises even as it holds overall non-security discretionary spending flat for the second year in a row, Holdren said.

"Maintaining support for investment in scientific research and technology development is absolutely vital for the continued growth of the economy. It is necessary for enabling the important advances that will create a future characterized by sustainable energy, sound infrastructure, and technology excellence," said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. "We are encouraged to see the priority that President Obama gives these programs."

"As an educational society, we are also delighted to hear the President reaffirm the Administration's commitment to funding science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education," Arthurs said. "This is the only way to ensure that America has a capably trained workforce to continue technology and research leadership in the future."

SPIE anticipates a difficult period of budget negotiations and compromise between opposing factions in Congress over the next several months. SPIE members will be visiting Capitol Hill in early April to voice their positions.

The Administration's budget calls for a decrease from 2011 funding levels of about $1.1 billion for 2012, while maintaining a growth path for the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science, and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Holdren said. It also supports:

  • R&D for clean-energy sources through programs at DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) and Energy Innovation Hubs to catalyze synergies between industry and academia
  • STEM education including teacher training as well as classroom support
  • private-sector investment by calling for an expanded, simplified, and permanent extension of the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit to provide certainty that the credit will be there for the duration of entrepreneurs' R&D investments.

In the House budget, NIST, the DOE Office of Science, and the NSF were among the areas impacted by proposed cuts, with higher percentages targeted in the DOE Office of Science and NIST. Appropriations Chair Rogers called the cuts necessary in order to get the nation's finances "on a sustainable course."

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, was founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 180,000 constituents from 168 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent and career and professional growth. SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific, and supports scholarships, grants and other education programs around the world.


Media Contact:

Amy Nelson
Public Relations Manager
Tel: +1 360 685 5478

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