Earlier this week, the White House released its proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2021, which will begin on October 1, 2020. The President’s budget is more a statement of administration priorities than an actual fiscal plan, as it is Congress’ responsibility to actually pass a budget.
As with the several past budget requests, the FY 2021 request proposes deep cuts in many areas of concern to the ASTC community. However, proposed cuts in recent years have generally not materializing with final appropriations from Congress often included increases for these same programs. Nonetheless, it is important for us to explain the value and need for these investments.
National Science Foundation (budget request to Congress)
The FY 2021 budget request for the National Science Foundation (NSF) is $7.4 billion, a 6.5% decrease from the FY 2020 enacted funding level. Of this, $6.2 billion would be allocated for Research & Related Activities (a decline of $524 million or 7.8% from FY 2020), $931 million for Education & Human Resources (a decline of $9 million or 1% from FY 2020), and $229.75 million for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (a decline of $13.48 million or 5.5% from FY 2020).
The Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program would be funded at $56 million, a 10.7% decrease from FY 2019, and the STEM+Computing Partnerships would be folded into CSforAll.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (FY 2021 Budget Request)
The request for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is $25.2 billion for the agency as whole, an increase of $2.6 billion (11.5%) from the FY 2020 enacted levels. Much of this increase is dedicated to human space exploration, including a return to the Moon and progress on a mission to Mars.
Despite the increase for NASA overall, the administration proposes to eliminate the Office of STEM Engagement and redirect funds from the office’s portfolio of grants and cooperative agreements to NASA’s core mission of exploration. This would mean the end of the Teams Engaging Affiliated Museums and Informal Institutions (TEAM II) program. The Science Activation program would receive a 1.3% increase (to $45.6 million) and a charge to enhance the program in line with the findings and recommendations of the recent National Academies report on the program.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
According to the budget from the Department of Commerce, NOAA’s parent agency, “NOAA’s submission is still under review and in the clearance process.” But topline numbers from the Office of Management and Budget show cuts across all major NOAA programs
National Institutes of Health (NIH overview)
The Trump Administration has proposed a budget of $38.7 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which would be $3 billion (7.2%) less than the FY 2020 enacted levels.
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) would receive $2.67 billion, a decrease of $265 million (9%) from the FY 2020 enacted levels. Although the Science Education Partnership Awards are not specifically called out, the division in which it lives would see a 9.1% reduction. (NIGMS budget request)
Institute of Museum of Library Services
For the fourth year in a row, the Trump Administration proposes to close the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) effective October 1, 2020. Only $23 million has been included in the FY 2021 request to assist in the “orderly closure” of the agency. IMLS would continue to operate under its existing budget, including awarding new grants and posting additional funding opportunities through the end of FY 2020. (IMLS Statement)
Department of Education (budget request)
The requested budget for the Department of Education is $66.6 billion, a $6.1 billion (8.4%) reduction from the FY 2020 appropriation. Many of the existing grant programs would be consolidated into an Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged Block Grant (ESED Block Grant); this includes several programs of interest to the science center community: Education Innovation and Research, Teacher Quality Partnership, and Native Hawaiian Education. The Institute of Education Sciences would receive flat funding of $195.9 million.