Congress reveals final 2022 budget midway through year

More than five months into the fiscal year, Congress has finally proposed a full budget for FY 2022. While the legislation has not passed both chambers as of this writing, the discretionary spending provisions are expected to remain unchanged. Few programs received as much funding as the House proposed in its appropriations bills last summer, but science and innovation initiatives generally received at least some additional funding. Highlights include: an additional $10.5 million for the SSTI Innovation Advocacy Council’s three priority programs; approval for the National Science Foundation to implement a technology directorate and new Regional Innovation Accelerator program; and, the creation of a new Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health.

Senate majority reveals FY22 budget with significant science, entrepreneurship funding

With the regular budget process stalled for the time being, Senate Democrats released their draft bills for the remaining three-quarters of the FY 2022 federal budget. Included in these proposals are substantial increases for Build to Scale and the Small Business Administration’s innovation programs, as well as funding for a new Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) at the National Science Foundation. The draft bills are another positive indicator for how Congress may invest in science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in the near future, but the path forward remains uncertain.

House committee approves $50 million for Build to Scale, $275 million for MEP and more

The House Committee on Appropriations advanced an FY 2022 funding bill that provides for substantial increases to many science and innovation programs. The Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) bill includes $50 million for the Build to Scale program — a top priority for SSTI’s Innovation Advocacy Council, $275 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, $9.6 billion for the National Science Foundation and more. Highlights from the bill for regional innovation economies follows:

Alabama governor signs measures to boost state’s innovation economy with $9M in appropriations

Alabama is the latest state that is embracing innovation as a way to grow the state’s economy. On May 19, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation that grew from two top priority measures of the Alabama Innovation Commission — proposals discussed between SSTI and commission members in a meeting earlier this year. House Bill (HB) 540 establishes the Alabama Innovation Corporation, a public-private partnership that will serve as a catalyst for the state’s growing innovation economy, and HB 609 creates the Innovate Alabama Matching Grant Program that will promote research and development in the state. Both measures were passed unanimously in the state’s recently concluded legislative session. The initiatives are funded through the Education Trust Fund Budget (enacted May 11), with the Alabama Innovation Corporation receiving $4 million in funding, and the Alabama Matching Grant Program appropriated $5 million.

Commentary: Providing context for the Biden skinny budget

A presidential budget provides, in theory, a strategic vision for the more than $1 trillion in annual, discretionary spending of the federal government. In practice, Congress will pass a spending bill that reflects its own will. The value of the president’s budget is the window it offers into the administration’s priorities. The Biden-Harris Administration’s skinny budget indicates priorities that should excite those working to build regional innovation economies.

Science and innovation prominent in Biden’s budget

Last week, the Biden-Harris administration released an initial budget proposal for FY 2022 discretionary appropriations. The document (referred to in Washington as a “skinny budget,” not because of the overall size of spending but because it serves as more of an outline or framework for the full budget proposal which will come in May) clearly emphasizes the importance of climate change, economic opportunity, equity and health as cross-cutting priorities. For regional innovation economies, these priorities would translate into significant increases in R&D funding, as well as additional funds for tech-based economic development activities.

The budget document that is available now is not a full presidential budget recommendation, which is expected in mid-May and, therefore, does not provide a suggested funding level for every federal initiative. Instead, the budget is a messaging document highlighting new efforts and existing activities that the administration would like to expand or otherwise emphasize. This insight into the president’s priorities is particularly useful early in the administration, when the government has not had much of an opportunity to shape programs through actions.

Highlights from the budget proposal by agency are available below.

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