PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University’s top administrators praised the 1999 federal budget — approved by Congress and signed Wednesday by President Clinton — for its investment in research and educational opportunity.
WSU President Samuel Smith and Provost Gretchen Bataille said the budget will positively impact public higher education nationally and Washington State University specifically.
“I express my appreciation for the active support of the state of Washington Congressional delegation for WSU’s priorities and the commitment to research funds across the federal budget,” said Smith. “The House and Senate appropriations committee members have been especially supportive, including Senators Gorton and Murray and Congressmen Nethercutt and Dicks.”
“The financial aid increases in the budget will allow more people who want a college education to obtain it,” Smith said.
He pointed to the $9.3 billion figure for student aid, $370 million more than the fiscal year 1998 amount. Because of the budget action, he said, it is estimated that an additional 24,000 students nationwide will be eligible for 1999 Pell Grants. Also, Smith said, the budget supports the Perkins Loan Program, which provides low-interest loans to needy students, and the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Needs Program, which gives fellowships to graduate students studying subjects deemed critical to the nation.
Smith said the $75 million in the budget for grants to states and partnerships of colleges and schools will improve the training of teachers to recruit more students to teach in underserved urban and rural areas.
The WSU leaders said the budget also indicates recognition by Congress and the President of the continuing importance of supporting scholarship and research for the future of the nation.
Bataille noted the budget contains a nearly $2 billion increase in the budget of the National Institutes of Health as well as sustained support to the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.
In addition, the appropriations for basic scientific research are up across the budget, Bataille said. The increases are led by a 14 percent increase to the National Institutes of Health, and are reflected also in an 8.8 percent increase in the research and related accounts of the National Science Foundation.
There are increases to Defense Department research, including an increase of 7.1 percent to the Office of Naval Research basic research account, and to the Office of Energy Research in the Department of Energy.
“WSU worked very closely with the Washington Congressional delegation to emphasize the importance of these funds to faculty at WSU as well as the economy of the state and region,” said Beverly Lingle, who directs WSU’s federal government relations.
She highlighted $1.7 billion in the budget for agricultural research and extension activities, including increases from fiscal year 1998 of $41 million for the Agricultural Research Service, of $50 million for research and education activities, and of $15 million for Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service activities.
According to Lingle, the appropriations for agriculture in the budget address many issues of concern to WSU. The WSU Agriculture Research Center (ARS) network in Pullman and across the state received a 7 percent increase overall, while the funds which support the Cooperative Extension network received a 3 percent increase. The competitive National Research Initiative (NRI) received a $22 million increase.
Funds were fully restored for the WSU Prosser Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center, while new funds are committed to ARS federal research based in Pullman in animal diseases, root diseases, and research in club wheat and grain legume, Lingle said. WSU provided leadership for nine special projects in areas of special agriculture challenges to the Northwest. Five received increased funding while four were level-funded, she said.
“Overall, the agriculture budget reflects an appreciation for the important role of research and service played by WSU and the other land-grant universities throughout the nation.” said Smith. “We are disappointed that the Congress chose not to fund the newly authorized research fund, but understand and appreciate their commitment to infuse new money into the research infrastructure provided by land-grant universities, as well at the increased funding to regional special projects and to the NRI.”