DC Digest — December 20, 2015

  • Update on FY16 Federal Spending
  • Tax Deal Extend
  • Duke Professor Named Interior Department Fellow
  • Science a Waste of Money? “Wastebook” Misses the Bigger Picture
  • Dukies on the Move

UPDATE ON FY16 FEDERAL SPENDING
Congress has wrapped up its work on the FY 2016 omnibus appropriations package, which finalizes spending levels for federal programs until September 2016.  The news is mostly good for federal research programs, due in large part to the October budget deal that provided additional room for increased spending levels.  Below is a snapshot of what’s included in the 2,000 plus pages of the compromise and links to articles for additional background:

  • $1.149 trillion in spending (through fiscal 2016) and $650 billion in tax breaks
  • NIH funding would increase by a total of $2 billion, to $32.1 billion.
  • Defense Science and Technology programs will see an 8.2% increase to $13.3 billion.  DOD basic research is increased by 1.4% to $2.3 billion
  • NSF funding will increase to $7.46 billion, a $119.3 million increase over 2015.
  • DOE Office of Science will increase to $5.35 billion, a 5.6% increase.
  • NASA Science programs will increase $5.6 billion, a 6.6% increase
  • Maximum Pell Grant is boosted by $140, bringing the new total to $5,915.
  • International Education Title VI programs will remain at $65.1 million.
  • The National Endowment for the Humanities will see its first increase in 6 years, rising 1.4% to $148 million.

Federal Budget Raises NIH, Other R&D (Duke Research Blog)
Omnibus Bill Contains Boost for several Science Agencies (aaas.org)
House easily clears $1.1 trillion spending bill (Politico)
The Big New Budget Deal, Explained
(Vox)

TAX DEAL EXTENDS AOTC AND R&D TAX CREDIT PERMANENTLY
The tax extension measure makes permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), the IRA Charitable Rollover, and the Research & Development (R&D) tax credit, as well as extends through 2016 the above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses.

The measure also improves Section 529 college savings accounts, in part by expanding the definition of qualified expenses to include computer equipment and technology.

DUKE PROFESSOR NAMED INTERIOR DEPARTMENT FELLOW
The U.S. Department of the Interior has appointed Martin Doyle, professor of river science and policy at Duke University, as Senior Conservation Finance Fellow at the Department’s new Natural Resources Investment Center (NRIC). Doyle is one of the nation’s top experts on water markets and water infrastructure finance. He is a faculty member at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and director of the Water Policy Program at Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. His appointment as NRIC’s inaugural Senior Conservation Finance Fellow will begin in January.

Martin Doyle Named Fellow of Interior Department’s Natural Resources Investment Center (Nicholas School of the Environment)

SCIENCE A WASTE OF MONEY? “WASTEBOOK” MISSES BIGGER PICTURE
Last week, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) released his 2015 report on what he views as wasteful federal spending, “Wastebook: The Farce Awakens.” The report uses as examples university research grants funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Sheila Patek, a Duke University marine biologist, had her work on fighting mantis shrimp highlighted in the Wastebook, and she talked to the Duke Research blog about her work and its impact in a recent post.

Science a waste of money? “Wastebook” misses the bigger picture (Duke Research blog)

DUKIES ON THE MOVE
Steve Chartan (T ’10) will become the Legislative Director for Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). He has previously served as the Executive Director of the House Freedom Caucus.

Are you or other Dukies you know making a move in DC? Please send tips to Jeff Harris at jeff.harris@duke.edu.
http://www.politico.com/story/2015/12/steve-chartan-ted-cruz-216555