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Napolitano urges federal investment in research, education and health care

As Congress begins work on federal funding legislation for 2016, University of California President Janet Napolitano is urging Congress’ strong support for the programs that will help ensure the United States and California continue to lead in education, research and health care.

In a letter to California’s congressional delegation, Napolitano outlined the university’s federal appropriations priorities and sought the delegation’s backing.

“Your support for UC’s priorities will help to advance scientific and technological innovation, promote unparalleled educational opportunities for Californians, and support the university’s commitment to training world-class health professionals and providing exceptional health care,” Napolitano wrote.

Federal lawmakers face difficult choices as they grapple with the fiscal year 2016 budget, given the impending resumption of sequestration. Sequestration was established in the Budget Control Act of 2011 to make additional cuts for the budget years 2012-21. In fiscal year 2013, sequestration took effect with deep, across the board budget cuts on defense and non-defense discretionary programs. Congress and President Obama reached an agreement to provide sequestration relief in fiscal year 2014-15. Now, sequestration is set to resume for the budget years 2016-21 through lower budget caps, which will have a significantly adverse impact on programs that are critically important to the university’s education, research and health care enterprise.

In her letter, Napolitano said that she was appreciative of Congress’ efforts to provide more stable funding for research and education in its 2015 appropriations, but that sequestration threatened that stability.

“As a former cabinet secretary and now president of the University of California, I have seen firsthand the arbitrary and damaging effects of relying on sequestration to cut the federal budget,” Napolitano wrote.

“For our country to continue to recover and thrive, sequestration must end and our government must make investments to strengthen the foundations of our economy, security and quality of life. Among these are strong and steady investments that will allow institutions like the University of California to continue to educate the next generation of workers, provide quality health care, and discover scientific and technological breakthroughs that help fuel our economy.”

The university’s federal appropriations priorities include recommendations for funding of programs at several important agencies that UC partners with on research, education and health care, including the Departments of Education, Energy, Defense, Agriculture, Homeland Security and Interior and the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, among others.

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