Thursday, August 25, 2016

Research-rich Penn State worries as Congress budget battle looms - ANNA DOUGLAS, McClatchy DC

Major research universities, like Penn State, rely heavily on federal funding in areas like defense, agriculture and energy. Gong Chen is the Verne M. Willaman Chair for Penn State Life Sciences. Projects like the ones he works on rely on federal funds. Imagine more than half of your income subject to the whims of polarized politicians in a turbulent election year. “This is what keeps me up at night,” said Neil Sharkey, Pennsylvania State University’s vice president for research. Sharkey oversees campus research programs and projects worth more than $800 million annually. Federal grants and contracts – spending controlled by Congress each year – make up $510 million, or close to 65 percent, of Penn State’s research spending. With a federal budget fight looming in Congress next month, Penn State and other higher education lobbyists are applying pressure on lawmakers in hopes of avoiding the kind of partisan-fueled budget showdowns that have become common and threaten to grind government to a halt. University advocates also want increased tax-dollar commitments for research projects.

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