The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 31.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

Bush plan does not cut research

@ByName:By Neil J. Ross

At the same time, the budget calls for cutbacks in student aid which could affect some 300,000 students.

The proposed budget includes a six percent increase military spending and a nine percent increase in civilian science research, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education

.

MIT is heavily dependent on money from many departments of the government. The three main research funding agencies for MIT are the Department of Energy, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Defense. Together they contributed $154.6 million to the Institute's $285.7 million research budget in the 1989 fiscal year.

These figures exclude Lincoln Laboratories, an MIT research institution which received $338 million of its $364 million budget from defense in FY 1989.

There is some concern over the impact of possible future cuts in defense spending, with a proposed 2.6 percent real decrease (after correcting for an estimated 4.6 percent inflation rate) for FY 1991, and a planned two percent real decrease every year thereafter until FY 1995. Last year, $47.9 million (excluding Lincoln) came to MIT from the DOD, in the form of both grants and contracts.

Associate Provost and Vice President for Research Kenneth A. Smith '58 and Vice President for Financial Operations James J. Culliton both saw no immediate impact of defense cuts on MIT.

Culliton pointed out that with the onset of the Strategic Defense Initiative, many projects were moved under SDI, but that even if SDI were to suffer cutbacks, these programs would probably have their funding sustained.

In addition to defense increases, the National Science Foundation will see a 14 percent increase in funding to $2.4 billion. Last year the NSF contributed $39 million to the research sponsorship at MIT.

Student aid cuts

The most direct influence on MIT students of the proposed budget comes from the Education Department, through its loan programs. The federal student aid program budget is set to increase from $6.1 billion to $6.4 billion, but with a $730 million cut in guaranteed student loans.

Aid to "disadvantaged" students would increase substantially, however, in so-called "Trio" programs. The programs would receive $270 million, up 11.6 percent from this year's $242 million.

The Bush administration claims that its cuts would not eliminate any loans because declining interest rates in the next year will reduce the cost of the loan programs. But critics of the president's budget argue that many of his forecasts for the coming year are overly optimistic.

Bush's proposals also include a change in the tax law which would enable the creation of tax-free Family Savings Accounts for couples with annual incomes under $120,000.

Another proposed change in the tax law would create permanent tax credit for corporate research spending. This provision has been enacted as a temporary measure in the past, with less success than its proponents had anticipated. However, as industry is the fourth largest sponsor of research at MIT, contributing $41.9 million in the last full fiscal year, the Institute would only gain from this move.

The budget would add emphasis to elementary and secondary education, in line with Bush's goal, stated in his State of the Union address, to raise high-school graduation rates to 90 percent. Approximately $500 million is earmarked to be transferred from postsecondary education to the elementary and secondary levels. The politically popular Head-Start program will see a $500 million increase to $1.9 billion.

The recently announced federal budget has been widely seen as a cautious one. A. Dallas Martin Jr, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, was quoted in The Chronicle

as saying, "I would have to give [Bush] a B+ on rhetoric, a C- on financing, and an A in political science."