Friday, 13 January 1989 Washington, DC
SCIENCE DID WELL IN REAGAN'S FAREWELL BUDGET--but don't start
pricing a new spectrometer. The budget request to Congress met
the Gramm-Rudman deficit target by a combination of rosy economic
forecasts and the annual rite of eliminating domestic programs
that everyone knows Congress will put back in--if indeed George
Bush doesn't put them back first. Whoever puts them back will
almost certainly look first to those programs that show a large
increase to find the money. That's why large increases in any
program are so hard to sustain. Nevertheless, the Reagan budget
will probably serve as a starting point, so let's take a look.
THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION is up for a 14% increase to
$2.15B, which the NSF says is on track for doubling in 5 years.
That is only true if you start counting last year, instead of the
year before when Reagan first proposed doubling the NSF budget.
As usual, the smallest increase, 10%, goes to Mathematical and
Physical Sciences. Within that, Materials Research does best at
17.6% and Astronomy does worst at 5%. Physics would get a 6.1%
increase. $20M is requested for about eight new S&T Centers.
- THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, as we reported last week, has $250M
in its budget for the Super Collider, of which $160M is labeled
"construction." An additional $28M is expected from "non-DOE
sources," which is a euphemism for "the state of Texas." Other
construction starts include the 6-7 GeV Light Source at Argonne
and the Compact Ignition Tokamak at Princeton. Excluding the SSC,
High Energy Physics is up 10% to $616M; Nuclear Physics is up 15%
to $299M; while Basic Energy Sciences is up only 7% to $590M.
- NASA is slated for a $2.4B increase in the FY 90 Reagan budget,
most of which would go to the space station. Nevertheless, it
should be a great year for space science. The Hubble Space
Telescope should be launched at last, along with the Magellan
mission to Venus, the Galileo mission to Jupiter, the Gamma Ray
Observatory, the Cosmic Background Explorer and the Ulysses Solar
Polar mission. Parking fees for the Hubble Telescope are much
lower in space than on earth, which saves some money (WN 2 Sep
88). For the first time, the NASA budget assumes $208M in
private funding. Fletcher sees no problem in raising this amount.
- THE STRATEGIC DEFENSE INITIATIVE budget request is more in the
nature of a final gesture of defiance from the steps of Air Force
One as Reagan boards for the last trip to California--satisfying
perhaps, but not very significant. It calls for a 46% increase
to nearly $6B. A $1B decline is considered to be more likely.
. ADMIRAL JAMES D. WATKINS WAS PICKED BY BUSH TO BE ENERGY
SECRETARY, almost a month after the other cabinet posts were
filled. And still, there is no Science Advisor or Administrator
for NASA. Those who get to the table late often go hungry.