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Despite Budget Woes, Virginia Governor Proposes Major Investments in University R&D

December 19, 2007

Facing a projected budget deficit of more than $600 million, Gov. Tim Kaine told lawmakers the state must invest more money in research and commercialization efforts to accelerate Virginia’s progress in key areas.


Anticipating the state’s investments in R&D will pay off in the future, Gov. Kaine unveiled a $1.65 billion bond package for higher education needs that includes support for researchers and research facilities aimed at R&D and commercialization. The governor’s fiscal year 2009-10 budget includes an additional $44.3 million for colleges and universities and continued funding for research across the state’s higher education institutes.

The bond package targets 75 projects for new construction and renovation focusing on developing a 21st century workforce in emerging fields such as science, engineering, education and health care. Upgrades are needed to provide researchers with the equipment to develop cutting-edge technologies, Gov. Kaine said in a press release. The proposed General Obligation Bond, which would be provided through the Virginia College Building Authority, must receive support from the General Assembly and voter approval.


Providing continued support for the Education Research Initiative, which was unveiled in the FY 2006-08 budget proposal, Gov. Kaine recommends $4.5 million in FY09 and $16.8 million in FY10. The initiative provides funds to leverage additional federal and private funding for commercialization efforts at the state’s public research universities (see the Dec. 19, 2005 issue of the Digest).


As part of a comprehensive general research fund package intended to support leading research programs while encouraging self-sustaining enterprises, Gov. Kaine recommends $29 million in FY09 to the state’s institutions of higher education. The governor also proposes an additional $40.5 million over the biennium for a competitive research program to examine the link between higher education institutions and economic development.


The Commonwealth Technology Research Fund is slated to receive $10.5 million over the biennium. This fund provides competitive grants for economic development efforts through institutions of higher education.

Additionally, the governor’s budget authorizes $15 million each year in Higher Education Trust bonds for research equipment – also distributed on a competitive basis. Funding for specific research projects include:

  • $7.5 million to Jefferson Labs for leveraging a $300 million investment by the federal government for an accelerator facility;
  • $2 million for the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium to explore alternative energy; and,
  • $1 million in FY10 to Hampton University to support a new proton bean cancer therapy facility.

The budget request for the Innovative Technology Authority – the governing body of the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) – is $5.8 million each fiscal year. This request is slightly less than the previous biennial appropriation of $6.1 million in FY07 and $5.9 million in FY08, which reflects a $312,000 reduction as part of the 2008 budget reduction plan. CIT focuses on accelerating new technologies, entrepreneurs and technology companies.


The Virginia Economic Development Partnership would receive $17.4 million each year under the governor’s proposal, which includes a reduction of $920,000 each year as part of the budget reduction plan. An additional $1 million over the biennium is included for rural broadband under the Department of Housing and Community Development. The department must use up to $200,000 in the first year for a feasibility study and planning for a business incubator and higher education center on Wallops Island.


A total of $68 million is requested for economic development projects under the Governor’s Development Opportunity Fund – the same level funded in the 2006-08 biennium. Gov. Kaine also is requesting funding for the state’s final payments ($5 million in FY09 and $2 million in FY10) to SRI International to establish a Center for Advanced Drug Research in the Rockingham Center for Research and Technology. The General Assembly established a grant program in 2007 with the independent nonprofit research institute to promote research, development and commercialization.


Gov. Kaine’s FY 2009-10 biennial budget is available at: http://www.dpb.state.va.us/budget/buddoc08/index.cfm