Archive for Thursday, February 28, 2013

Federal budget cut coming Friday could cost KU millions in research funding

February 28, 2013


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As morning dawns on Friday, it might seem like just another day on the Kansas University campus. But behind the scenes, millions of dollars that flow to workers, students and research will suddenly be in jeopardy.

Barring a last-minute agreement in Washington, D.C., Friday is the day that across-the-board cuts will slice into federal government spending — including the pipeline of federal research funds that flows to KU this year. Officials refer to the cuts as “sequestration,” or simply “the sequester.”

And two months after a similar deadline loomed but was temporarily averted, it’s here again.

Whatever you want to call them, the cuts will likely have an immediate effect at KU. Officials can’t be sure exactly what it will be, but odds are the cuts will touch jobs, student assistantships and more. And KU officials say they could hurt the state’s economic development for years to come.

“I guess you could say we’re as ready as we could be, probably, for this,” said Steve Warren, KU’s vice chancellor of research and graduate studies. “But it will have a big impact, and we’ll see it in all sorts of different ways.”

More than $200 million in federal research funding flows to KU each year, funding work related to cancer treatments, alternative fuel sources, improved education of students with disabilities and much more. That money comes in the form of grants awarded by numerous federal research agencies, and it pays for salaries, tuition and living costs for graduate students and other related expenses.

The sequester set to go in place Friday would force each of the federal agencies that fund KU’s research — along with other federal nondefense discretionary spending — to cut their annual budgets by about 5.1 percent. But that applies to the current federal fiscal year, which is already five months old. That means the immediate drop-off in funding could be more like 10 percent.

KU estimates a potential loss in research funding of $12.6 million for the current federal fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Sequestration could also hurt KU students’ federal financial aid, though the damage there will not be as severe as it would be to research funding, said Tim Caboni, KU’s vice chancellor for public affairs.

In some cases, KU researchers may have to cut their budgets as soon as next week.

“We’re in the middle of a semester, these projects are rolling along, and it’s just hard to take these kind of cuts so quickly,” Warren said.

Though each federal agency must lop that same 5.1 percent off its budget, it’s not yet clear exactly how that will happen.

The National Science Foundation says it will mostly award fewer new grants. The National Institutes of Health have announced they would cut the amounts of already-existing grants. The U.S. Department of Education — the third of KU’s biggest grant sources — has said little.

KU researchers in charge of federal grants have already been planning for weeks about how they might deal with drop-offs in funding.

Take Charles Greenwood, the director of KU’s Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, for example.

The center in downtown Kansas City, Kan., conducts research on and develops programs for the education and parenting of children ranging from infants to teenagers, primarily from low-income families.

It receives about $6 million to $7 million in federal funding each year, primarily from the U.S. Department of Education. That money accounts for about 90 percent of its budget, which provides for 65 employees and graduate research assistants.

A 5.1 percent reduction in that funding would mean a loss of somewhere between $300,000 to $400,000 between now and the end of September.

On top of that, Juniper Gardens has submitted grant proposals worth more than $3 million that are now sitting atop desks untouched, because agencies aren’t approving new grants amid all the uncertainty. Its existing grants won’t last forever, so that puts funding for future years in jeopardy.

“We have real dilemmas to face here,” Greenwood said.

If the sequester stays in place through the summer, he said he’ll have to take some serious measures. The project will support fewer graduate students, and staff may be let go. The project may even have trouble paying the rent for the off-campus space it leases.

“We will try to support them through this semester, and after that we’ll have to make cuts,” Greenwood said. “We’ll probably need to make cuts in staffing. These are just imminent things.”

And fewer children, parents and teachers will be reached by the project’s programs.

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little has joined with other university leaders around the country to call on Congress to “stop the sequester,” in an effort organized by the Association of American Universities and other national groups. In an online video for the group ScienceWorksForU.S., Gray-Little said that the cuts would hurt medical research and economic development.

The video drew criticism last week from U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, who said that sequestration is a “home run” because of the federal spending reduction it would force: about $85 billion over the next seven months.

Caboni is in Washington, D.C., this week to talk with leaders about the issue.

The message KU is sending, he said, is that the sequester’s brand of cuts is too blunt and doesn’t consider possible damage to research and development that could damage the economy for years.

“It is truly a meat cleaver and not a scalpel,” Caboni said.

Better, he said, would be a budget that balances discretionary spending cuts with reforms to entitlement spending and the tax code.

Warren added that sequestration was put in place as a measure to encourage Congress and President Obama to reach a deficit-reduction agreement. The negative incentive it was meant to provide, he said, is becoming all too clear.

“Remember, the sequester was intended to be something that no one ever wanted to do,” Warren said. “That’s why it’s a really nasty, nasty tool for budgeting.”


Jayhawks64 5 years, 3 months ago

Matt, Please source the 5.1% figure in the article. I thought it was about half that number.

merickson 5 years, 3 months ago

Good question. (Well, not technically a question, but good request.) The 5.1 percent figure refers only to non-defense discretionary spending, where most federal funds for higher education and research come from. Here's a bit of an explanation:

Those programs only make up one chunk of the budget, so the percentage of the entire federal budget that sequestration will cut is lower. I'm guessing those lower figures you've heard are referring to that.


Matt Erickson, KU reporter

Mercy 5 years, 3 months ago

This is not really a cut. This is a reduction in the annual 7.some percent increase that is already built into the budget. No big deal. We need to live within our means. People are better managers of their money than the government.

Brian Laird 5 years, 3 months ago

Not really a surprise that someone who calls themselves "billybob" would not care about education.

rtwngr 5 years, 3 months ago

Not really a surprise that a liberal elite would make a stereotypical comment when there is no other rebuttal to offer.

streetman 5 years, 3 months ago

KU, like most entities (and "takers"), has become too dependent on governments, and thus susceptible to to a "hurt" when the inevitable slowing of growth has to occur. It happens to all addicts, eventually.

Centerville 5 years, 3 months ago

It's not a cut. It's a 2% increase in the amount that the feds would like to spend in the future. This is nothing but melodrama. Maybe if the federal government had a budget, we wouldn't have to put up with this grandstanding.

Budgets_Smudgets 5 years, 3 months ago

Lets see:

1) KU Med & Cancer Center kisses Senate President Wagle's butt with an award as a "cancer survivor" even though many people believe there are huge issues about whether Wagle even had these cancer issues. 2) KU wonders why Senator Wagle still prosecutes KU on stem cell research, desiring that KU set up a shill non-academic entity to pursue "adult stem cell" research, almost "fake-science." 3) KU wonders why a Salina legislator, affiliated with Senator Wagle, wants to slash KU funding. 4) Pompeo, a close associate of Wagles, blasts the KU chancellor for discussing higher education research funding. 5) Remembering that Wagle tried to eliminate the entire KU School of Social Welfare only because Prof. Daily ran the most popular undegraduate course on campus that involved a discussion of (oh the horror) sex. 6) Dear Chancellor, how has that advice gone about kissing Senator Wagles butt? Whose idea was this? Have you talked to the School of Social Welfare about your award to Wagle?

question4u 5 years, 3 months ago

So, sequestration is a "home run," but we should blame Obama for it.

Perhaps in Kansas, and in Bizzaro world, this may present no contradiction, but everywhere else it should give pause. How can you trust the opinion of anyone who tells you something is great, or even that it's no big deal, but at the same time tells you to blame someone for it?

Either say that it's no big deal and accept the responsibility if that proves to be untrue, or argue that it's a bad idea and that it's Obama's fault, but both at once? To any thinking person that can only convey the impression that you have no real idea what the consequences will be but want to cover all of the bases.

Liberty275 5 years, 3 months ago

"So, sequestration is a "home run," but we should blame Obama for it."

I'm giving him credit for it. Besides fighting a drone war and whacking Bin Laden it's the best idea he has had.

parrothead8 5 years, 3 months ago

How does academic research control you? You really want to live in an America that doesn't believe in funding public education? If you privatize education, then the people paying for it determine what is taught, and that is ALL that is taught. No more free and open inquiry. No more questioning the scientific findings of others. No more having to prove your work.

The America you want to live in is messed up.

Brock Masters 5 years, 3 months ago

Sequestration was Obama's idea. Finally he did something I can applaud.

Brock Masters 5 years, 3 months ago

If the sequester is so bad then why did Obama pledge $60 million to Syria? Maybe he should have kept that money at home?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

Austerity will have three results-- higher unemployment, a return to recession and higher deficits.

rtwngr 5 years, 3 months ago

Oh sure, increased spending has really improved our situation since the "Community Organizer in Chief" was elected.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

Actually, there's a pretty broad consensus among economists that federal stimulus spending kept the recession from getting worse, and not a small number of economists say that what we really need is more deficit spending and much larger stimulus. This is because the real problem we face is unemployment, not deficits.

But we're stuck on the idiocy of austerity, thinking that shooting ourselves in our collective foot will make us good dancers.

Paul Wilson 5 years, 3 months ago

Republican and Democrat deficit spending is the reason we are in this situation. The most insane thing is to think you can spend your way out of debt. There is not "broad consensus among economists that federal stimulus spending kept the recession from getting worse".

Debt is the reason for unemployment. Nation wide debt. No matter how you want to twist it Bozo (how fitting a name) will never get out of debt by spending more money. The fed has never and will never create sustainable jobs. Until we can convince the left that they need to be producers instead of takers...the situation will not get better.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

--- Where did the whole idea of sequestration originate?

  • It goes back to 1985.

  • Sequestration never really worked, though, and it was repealed in 1990 and replaced by a new budget deal. After that, it disappeared down the Washington, DC, memory hole for the next 20 years.

--- What about the 2013 version? Where did that come from?

  • In the summer of 2011, Republicans decided to hold the country hostage, insisting that they'd refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless President Obama agreed to substantial deficit reduction..

--- How big is the sequester?

--- So what gets cut?

--- Aren't we still in a recession? What are these cuts going to do to the economy?

--- Does anyone have a plan to avoid the sequester?

  • Sure.

elliottaw 5 years, 3 months ago

yes because this fear mongering is new and was never done in other administrations, its not like any past presidents have sent their sacrificial lamb to the UN to make untrue claims about WMDs.

In_God_we_trust 5 years, 3 months ago

"More than $200 million in federal research funding flows to KU each year, funding work related to cancer treatments, alternative fuel sources, improved education of students with disabilities and much more."

Now that the money is no longer "flowing" from the federal gov., it's hard to believe that $200 million each year was going (down the toilet for the most part) to KU each year just for "government approved research". It makes one wonder how much more money flows to KU from the government that we don't know about yet?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

"it's hard to believe that $200 million each year was going (down the toilet for the most part)"

Which of KU's research programs are "toilets?" Please be specific.

In_God_we_trust 5 years, 3 months ago

Which of KU's research programs have produced more than $200 million a year of revenue or savings to justify this level of funding? Please be specific.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 3 months ago

Ginger or Mary Anne? Please be specific.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

There is a fairly rigorous process involved in getting any sort of government grant, but you know nothing about that, do you? All you see is "government," and you knee-jerk to the conclusion that it must be money down the toilet.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

“You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don't matter,” said the vice president. “We won the mid-term elections, this is our due.” -

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago


Then cut corporate welfare to the wealthy across the board…. Absolutely.

The nation has 20 years to adjust Social Security.

--- Killing Social Security Insurance Is Not An Option.

--- SSI Not Going Broke

--- Killing Medicare Insurance is simply not an option.

--- INSTEAD we improve medicare insurance to reduce the cost of government. Physicians for a National Health Program AND

TalkSense 5 years, 3 months ago

Federally funded research - at Kansas State, Wichita State, and KU - is 1) money coming into the Kansas economy we wouldn't have otherwise, money that 2) employs highly skilled people today, 3) advances our understanding of agriculture, energy, human health, and aerospace, among many other subjects, and 4) has the potential to launch start-up companies and generate licensing revenue. In 2011, the combined R&D efforts of the public universities in Kansas exceeded $525 million from all sources - federal, state, industry, foundations. The investment in university research is justified on many levels and is one the state's true growth industries.

Richard Payton 5 years, 3 months ago

The Dow is above 14,000 because of the Fed's cheap money printing program. This cheap printing program shouldn't go on forever. At some point hard choices must be made for our children's future.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

Global warming is the biggest (real) threat to the human species since we crawled out of the caves, but all Washington cares about is the abstraction called debt/deficit.

Liberty275 5 years, 3 months ago

Right. We survived actual ice ages living in caves and you think the global warming redistribution scam is a real danger. You should be more concerned about Yellowstone blowing it's cork again instead. It's due.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

As a species, we're only as smart as the lowest common denominator. Are you here to represent them?

UfoPilot 5 years, 3 months ago

Journalism FAIL. Their budget will increase.

streetman 5 years, 3 months ago

Yawnnnnnnnnnnnnn. Apparently, the "sequester" has kicked-in. Seems as devastating as the Mayan calendar calamity we survived.

yourtaxdollarsatwork 5 years, 3 months ago

A basic issue rarely raised (if at all) in the above posts,is the national debt ($16.5 trillion) and the annual federal deficit, projected by the President to be more than $1 trillion for each of the next four years. Democrats, Republicans and Independents have to first decide if running a trillion dollar deficit every year is wise or sustainable.

The administration believes that "in the long term, the national debt is a problem, but in the short term, a federal deficit of $1 trillion is not a problem. I have children and grand children. I believe that continuing to spend more money than you take in can only result in disaster for the children, the elderly, women, minorities - everyone in this country. Eventually, the system will sink under its own weight.

It should be no surprise to anyone anywhere that reducing the federal deficit, let alone the national debt, will hurt everyone. Each man, woman and child in the U S owes $52,000.00 right now. That doesn't include unfunded liabilities in Social Security and Medicare. (Who knew the baby boomers would live long enough to actually draw social security?) the administration and both parties in congress avoid making the difficult decisions which are needed to solve problems. Even when individuals and small groups come up with logical ideas, the others are to busy blaming each other to notice.

And as a final thought, remember, voters get the government the winners deserve. People think it is OK to raise taxes as long as it's not their taxes. And they think the federal government needs to spend less as long as it isn't money they receive.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

"in the final analysis can we afford it?"

And the other part of the analysis that you fail to mention is can we afford not to afford it? Is the status quo of human knowledge really adequate? Should we just declare our state of knowledge and technology "good enough" and cancel all research of all kinds?

matahari 5 years, 3 months ago

Oh who said it? "You can't judge a man's (sic : countrys') wealth by how far in debt he/it can go"

truemother 5 years, 3 months ago

Good Morning Everyone. We all need to take a moment and Thank God for what we have.

Our government is so greedy that we are facing at least 81 million in budget cuts to our defense and other programs. Our schools will be highly affected, not to mention the workers in our country that support our military.

If our house and senate representatives would take a budget cut to their wallets, maybe they would agree to support their country in more thoughtful ways.

Its really sad to see our country be falling.

I know, if we all prayed and actually listened to our heavenly father, there would be valid results to this issue, Prayer is a wonderful solution.

God has something good in store for those of us in the USA. Stand proud and don't let the government decisions bring us down.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 3 months ago

Deficit: the year to year difference in spending versus revenue.

Debt: The overall amount of money owed by the US government that has already been spent.

Budget cuts will help the deficit, but they will do very little for the overall debt, which has accumulated over years of spending on entitlements wars, etc.

The debt will only be reduced through increased payments against it. Budget cuts will do very little.

The best way to reduce the debt is to raise more revenue (taxes) and make bigger payments to countries that hold our debt.

obamasocks 5 years, 3 months ago

The best part of this is that no one seems to know what exactly it means at KU. Does it just mean grants will have less funds to operate on? Does it mean grant-funded positions will be cut?

Anyone else tired of all the financial melodrama at the state and federal level?

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