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Virginia Gov's Amendments Would Restore Funding for Research, Life Sciences

May 09, 2012

While touting broad support from lawmakers for his 2012 legislative agenda during the regular session, Gov. Bob McDonnell also expressed concern about several economic development and education initiatives left out of the 2012-14 biennial budget passed by lawmakers during a special session that ended last month. Just in time for the deadline, Gov. McDonnell submitted $43.9 million in budget amendments, which include restoring funds for research, life sciences and teacher recruitment.

Within the Office of Commerce and Trade, the governor is asking for $2.5 million each fiscal year ($5 million total) to partially restore funding for a life sciences initiative that was included in the proposed budget bill and later removed. The research consortium would be comprised of higher education institutions that would contract with private entities, foundations and other government sources to capture and perform research in the biosciences. The original proposal called for $10 million over two years to fund the effort.

In order to provide the same level of funding each fiscal year for the Growth Acceleration Program (GAP) and Commonwealth Research and Commercialization Fund (CRCF), the governor is asking lawmakers to add $3 million in the second year of the biennium. These funds, administered by the Center for Innovative Technology, provide loans and matching grants to advance science and technology-based R&D and incentivize commercialization. The budget approved by lawmakers allocates $3.2 million in FY13 and $2 million in FY14 for the GAP fund and $4.8 million in FY13 and $3 million in FY14 for the CRCF fund. As part of the governor's efforts to support R&D and commercialization, lawmakers last year approved $10 million for both funds (see the March 9, 2011 issue of the Digest).

To continue the state's efforts in attracting new companies, the governor asked lawmakers to restore a portion of funds for the Governor's Development Opportunity Fund ($6 million) and the Workforce Retraining Fund ($1 million). Lawmakers supported many of the governor's K-12 education proposals, including a teacher recruitment initiative to attract the best and brightest educators. The governor's amendment to the budget adds $300,000 in FY13 and $400,000 in FY14 for the pilot program, which he says will help prepare math and science teachers and ensure students are equipped with knowledge of science, technology, innovation and math necessary for future job success.

The budget passed by lawmakers also includes $230 million in new state funds for higher education — about the same amount proposed by the governor. The General Assembly will reconvene May 14 to take up the governor's amendments. The enrolled 2012-14 budget is available at: http://lis.virginia.gov/122/bud/budsum/HB1301e.pdf. The governor's amendments are detailed in http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?122+amd+HB1300AG.

Virginiar&d, higher ed, commercialization, state tbed, state budget, bio, capital, k-12