as of March 7, 2014
The House and Senate did not meet today. When the Senate returns to session on Monday, March 10, it will resume consideration of legislation to strengthen prosecution of sexual assaults in the military (S. 1917). The House next week is expected to continue work on the so-called “doc fix” (H.R. 4015, S. 2000), legislation to prevent Medicare payments to physicians from dropping precipitously at the end of this month. Still at issue is how to cover the high cost of a long-term solution.
BUDGET & APPROPRIATIONS
HIGHER EDUCATION AND RESEARCH FUNDING IN PRESIDENT’S FY15 BUDGET REFLECTS TIGHT CAPS
President Obama released his FY15 budget on March 4. Limited by the discretionary spending caps set by last year’s budget deal—which amount to an increase over FY14 of just $1.6 billion for both defense and nondefense programs—the budget provides slight increases that do not cover inflation for many research and education programs of interest to the research university community.
AAU expressed disappointment that the President’s proposed budget does little to help close the nation’s innovation deficit, the difference between what the federal government is investing in research and higher education and what it needs to be investing to sustain the nation’s global leadership. In fact, funding for basic research across the government would decline slightly.
To bolster spending for the President’s priorities, the budget proposes a supplemental $56-billion fund called the Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative, which would provide additional funding, including an extra $5.3 billion for research, to be paid for by cuts in mandatory programs and tax increases on major corporations and wealthy individuals. In this election year, the additional funding initiative stands little chance of congressional approval.
--AAU Posts Its FY15 Budget Overview, Priorities Chart, Agency Budget Materials
The AAU summary of the President’s FY15 budget, the AAU FY15 funding priorities chart, and individual agency budget summaries can be viewed here on the AAU FY15 Budget Page. The materials will be updated as the federal agencies provide fuller explanations of their budget plans.
NACUBO PROVIDES SUMMARY OF CHAIRMAN CAMP’S COMPREHENSIVE TAX BILL
The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) has published a summary of the provisions affecting higher education in the comprehensive tax bill released on February 26 by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI).
The four-page summary focuses on four key areas: student & education tax benefits; employee tax benefits; research; and financing tax-exempt organizations. The last category includes specifics on charitable giving; tax-exempt bond financing; and unrelated business income, excise taxes, and penalties.
AAU UPDATES TAX BACKGROUND DOCUMENTS FOR 2014
AAU has updated for 2014 its background documents on higher education tax provisions. These documents include an overview of the federal tax provisions that affect colleges and universities, as well as documents on specific topics such as the student loan interest deduction, unrelated business income, tax-exempt financing, charitable gifts, and the R&D tax credit.
The updated documents can be viewed here.
OTHER CONGRESSIONAL ISSUES
REP. JOHNSON INTRODUCES COMPETES REAUTHORIZATION BILL
Democrats on the House Science, Space, & Technology Committee on March 6 introduced their version of legislation to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act. The measure (H.R. 4159), introduced by Ranking Committee Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), would authorize budget increases of five percent a year for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). It also would reauthorize the Regional Innovation Program, which aims to strengthen regional economies through a variety of collaborations among colleges and universities, businesses, and other entities. The bill also addresses science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and diversity.
Sometime next week, Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) is expected to introduce a revised version of his discussion draft of the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology Act of 2013 ( FIRST Act). The bill would reauthorize programs and funding for NSF, NIST, STEM education, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Once the bill is introduced, it is expected to quickly go to markup in the Subcommittee on Research and Technology. No date for the subcommittee markup has been announced.