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Fermilab | Batavia, IL | USA

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Proposed funding cuts continue to draw attention

 Many media outlets have been discussing the potential impacts on Fermilab of a proposed 20 percent cut in the current fiscal year’s funding through the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Scientific American wrote about how the cuts would prematurely shutter the Tevatron. Geneva Patch.com wrote about potential layoffs and furloughs at Fermilab and Argonne national labs and how that might affect local business that support the laboratories and their employees.

The proposed cuts come as part of an appropriations bill for the FY2011 budget, which has yet to be approved even though five months of the budget year have passed.  Government has been working on a continuing resolution, which assumed budget levels stayed flat, but that continuing resolution expires March 4. The proposed House budget would not keep funding levels flat for key science agenciess as assumed by the continuing resolution but cut them by 20 percent, requiring labs such as Fermilab to come up with a year’s worth of savings in the last six months of the budget year. That equates to a 40 percent cut in six months, as Fermilab Director Pier Oddone has stated.

GenevaPatch.com published a letter that Illinois Senator Dick Durbin sent to fellow Congressmen and Congresswomen about proposed cuts to a key funding source of national laboratories.

… cuts critical research and robs 10,000 American workers of their jobs during a very weak economy.  This is not the path to economic growth.  We need to invest in crucial research that fuels American innovation.  Fiscal responsibility demands thoughtful allocation of our resources that will lead us to a stronger economic standing.  …  I look forward to working with you to ensure that our labs continue their world-class research.

Durbin stressed in a previous press release the need to balance needed cuts with continued support of industry and R&D that will promote innovation, and thus jobs. The President’s proposed FY2012 budget supports science and keeps funding for Fermilab relatively flat from FY2010 levels.

Finally, the President’s Budget also recommends targeted investments in key research and development programs for the next fiscal year to help promote innovation on our campuses and in our labs so that the growth industries of tomorrow are founded here today.

—  Tona Kunz

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