As recently as last week, things did not look good for congressional support for the sciences. In a Nov 9 policy statement, AAAS pointed to both a house and senate budget proposal that would have cut science funding, particularly NSF, by a considerable amount (PDF comparison of the bills HERE). The house was bleeding NSF for a 12% cut and the senate wanted 14.2%. In light of recent changes, it looked like we were going from worse to worser ("bad" having been so last year).
While I am not usually one that thinks DC listens to the people much, eying those budget numbers actually made me write my senators and reps. A budget flatline is bad enough, but those kinds of cuts make it clear that our leaders in Washington doesn't see science and technology as way into the future - a message I find ominous.
But suddenly things are different today. According to a press release from the NCS Alliance there was an 11th hour negotiated change.
Last night, Congressional leaders released their final plan for fiscal year (FY) 2012 spending for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a multitude of other federal agencies. The conference report, which represents the compromise between the House and Senate passed appropriations bills, would provide NSF with $7.0 billion, an increase of $173 million above FY 2011, but significantly below President Obama’s requested budget. Research and Related Activities would receive an increase of $155 million above last year. More details will be provided in an upcoming policy report.
Although the increase is not huge, it is an increase. Certainly this is good news for science and perhaps those out there who were spurred to write the congress peoples on behalf of the community, were heard. Whatever happened, I'll take it.