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Budgets Unveiled in Southern and Western States Maintain, Invest in TBED

December 01, 2010

Governors in Arkansas, Mississippi and Wyoming recently unveiled spending plans for the upcoming year or biennium. Funding for many tech-based investments would be maintained or increased under the governors' proposals. New proposals range from additional funds for energy research at the University of Wyoming to new funding mechanisms for colleges and universities in Mississippi. Funding for S&T efforts in Arkansas would remain level.

Gov. Mike Beebe unveiled a $4.6 billion spending plan for the upcoming year that includes $17.4 million for the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority, the state's lead tech-based economic development organization. This includes $7.9 million in ARRA funds for a project within the Office of Health Information Technology. Authorized funding for the Authority was $9.4 million last year, which incorporated $206,190 in ARRA funds. The governor recommends level funding of $1.9 million for the Seed Capital Investment program, which provides up to $500,000 to support initial capitalization or expansion of tech-based companies and $257,182 in state funds for the Manufacturing Extension Network, the same as last year.

The state's higher education institutions would receive a combined increase of 1 percent in state general revenue funding, with each institution's share to be determined under a formula developed in the past, reports the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Gov. Beebe recommends $5 million for Research Development Program grants within the higher education budget, up from $1 million last year due to anticipated future revenues. The program provides grants to institutions of higher education for development of scientific research.

Budget documents are available at: http://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/offices/budget/Pages/forms.aspx.

To help fill a structural shortfall of $634 million, Gov. Haley Barbour recommends an average 8 percent reduction in state spending for the upcoming fiscal year. Higher education would be cut less than 2 percent, however. The governor proposed a new funding mechanism for community colleges and universities based on productivity goals and accomplishments rather than enrollment, according to budget documents. Similar proposals recently were introduced in Texas and Virginia (see the Nov. 10, 2010 issue of the Digest). Gov. Barbour also wants to establish a direct appropriation for community colleges, which currently is funded through an appropriation of about $27 million to the Department of Education. The budget would increase the amount of this appropriation by approximately $7 million above the FY11 level to improve the effectiveness of Mississippi's career training programs.

The governor's budget details a plan to merge some of the state's eight universities, a proposal that failed to garner legislative support last year. Under the plan, Mississippi University for Women would be merged into Mississippi State University and the state's historically black universities, Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State, would be merged with Jackson State University.

Level funding of $21.6 million is recommended for the Mississippi Development Authority, the state's lead economic and community development agency.

Gov. Barbour's FY12 Executive Budget is available at: http://www.governorbarbour.com/news/2010/nov/FY12%20EBR.pdf.

Gov. Dave Freudenthal's 2011-12 supplemental budget would make available $83 million in prior balance Abandoned Mine Land (AML) funding for energy research and construction of a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) laboratory facility at the University of Wyoming (UW). The governor recommends $50 million for phase I construction of the facility, which he says could be completed by December 2013. The second phase would cost an additional $15.8 million. The facility would house teaching labs to address modern and emerging technologies and teaching methods in the laboratory sciences.

The remaining $33 million in AML funds would be distributed to UW for energy research and for energy science graduate stipends and fellowships. This includes $20.4 million for the School of Energy Resources operations (a $1 million increase over the 2011-12 operating budget) and $6 million to support first-year operations and preparatory activities for the High Plains Gasification Advanced Technology Center. Another $6.5 million would provide $1 million annually for graduate stipends and fellowships for six-and-a-half years in the areas of energy, natural resources and computational sciences.

Lawmakers appropriated more than $76 million in AML funds for energy research in the 2010-11 biennium (see the March 10, 2010 issue of the Digest).

Gov. Freudenthal's 2011-12 Supplemental Budget is available at: http://ai.state.wy.us/budget/pdf/SupplementalStateBudget.pdf.

Arkansas, Mississippi, Wyomingstate budget