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Baldwin Announces Support for American Innovation Act

Bill would preserve Wisconsin’s global leadership in innovation by increasing investment in basic scientific research

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) announced her support for the American Innovation Act, legislation introduced by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). With a decline in federal scientific research threatening Wisconsin’s standing as a leader in discovery and innovation and our global competitiveness, this legislation will put funding for basic research on a consistent, steady growth path over the next decade by providing annual budget increases of 5 percent – over and above inflation – for cutting edge research at five important federal research agencies: The National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, the Department of Defense Science and Technology Programs, the National Institute of Standards and Technology Scientific and Technical Research, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science Directorate.

“In order for Wisconsin, and the rest of America, to continue to grow our economy and out-innovate the rest of the world, we must renew our commitment to investing in research, science and technology,” said Baldwin. “I’m proud to support this critical legislation that will allow Wisconsin’s researchers to spend less time figuring out how to cut their budgets and more time making game-changing discoveries that will continue to fuel our state’s economic engine.”

"We thank Senator Baldwin for supporting federal investments in research,” said Ray Cross, President, University of Wisconsin System. “These funds are central to educating students and for workforce preparation in science and research fields, as well as for our economy and competitiveness." 

“I applaud Sen Baldwin for her leadership on this bill.  Federal funding for science has been critical to UW-Madison’s research efforts and its ability to generate scientific breakthroughs that expand knowledge, improve human health and quality of life, and grow our economy,” said Marsha Mailick, UW-Madison Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education. “I appreciate the need for fiscal responsibility and hope that increased funding for science can be a high priority for how those limited dollars are spent.”

UW–Madison is the fourth largest research institution in the nation, with awards in 2013 reaching more than $1.1 billion, and has consistently ranked among the top five universities overall for research funding secured from all sources —federal, private and state — for more than 20 years.

UW-Madison research has fostered the formation of at least 311 startup companies in Wisconsin. The startup companies support more than 24,972 jobs and contribute approximately $2.3 billion to the Wisconsin economy, bringing the total estimated economic impact to $15 billion, according to a study released this week. The study found that for every taxpayer dollar spent on UW–Madison, the university generates $24 for the state economy.

Federal funding for R&D has been on a downward trend for the past several decades. Today, the federal government spends almost two-thirds less on research and development today than it did in 1965 as a portion of discretionary spending. Accounting for inflation, federal funding for science has lost 20 percent in purchasing power in just three years. The lack of funding has led to a $1.5 trillion investment deficit and a growing number of America’s best young researchers are taking their talents to other industries – and other countries. This legislation aims to reverse that trend and close the nation’s invention and innovation deficit.

What makes these cuts doubly dangerous is that our competitors are not cutting their research efforts – they are scaling them up dramatically. Over the last decade, while the U.S. was increasing federal R&D investments 4 percent a year, China was increasing its R&D investments by 20 percent a year. If we stay on this course, China will be investing more in R&D than the U.S. as soon as the year 2020. According to The Science Coalition, China already performs nearly as much of the world’s high-tech manufacturing today as does the US.

In addition to the UW System and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the American Innovation Act has been supported by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, The Science Coalition, Task Force on American Innovation, IBM Corporation, Association of American Universities, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities; and the Close the Innovation Deficit campaign, a coalition of more than 120 national business, higher education, scientific, patient, and other organizations.

Learn more about the legislation here