By Shaun Boyd
BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)– Pres. Donald Trump is pushing for major cuts to science and medical funding and it could have serious implications for Colorado, which is home to more than 30 federal labs.
“Being the source of our own brilliance is something we should always invest in,” says Dan Powers with CO-Labs – a non-profit representing the labs.
He says their discoveries impact our everyday lives, including quantum mechanics research into computer viruses, space weather impacts on GPS, rapid diagnostic tests for Yellow Fever and Zika Virus, and sophisticated wildfire prediction models based on climate trends.
“These labs are solving problems and pushing the edges of innovation in a whole range of types of science and that benefits not just Colorado but really our country and in many cases the whole world,” says Powers.
But, he says that science is threatened by Mr. Trump’s proposed budget. It would cut The National Science Foundation by $776 million, The National Institutes of Health by $6 billion, CDC by $1.2 billion and E-P-A by $2.6 billion.
“To freeze projects now because of budget cuts,” Powers says, “can put years of work on a shelf and put us at disadvantage to where we rely perhaps on another country to give us their research.”
The economic impact is also significant. The University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business says the labs contributed $2.6 billion to Colorado’s economy last year. They’ve lured industries here, resulted in spin off companies and partnered with businesses on joint research.
“The manifestation of this science out of our labs into the private sector cannot be underestimated,” Powers says.
The labs also employ nearly 8,000 people and Gov. John Hickenlooper is worried the state could lose some of the world’s top researchers.
“We would have literally hundreds and probably thousands of people out of work when you include the indirect jobs but you’re also taking progress and pushing it backwards,” said Hickenlooper.
Colorado Republican U.S. Senator Cory Gardner agrees and as chair of the Subcommittee on Energy, he says he’ll fight the cuts.
“I think this president’s budget will be met with the same success as the last president’s budget was met with. Congress drafts the bill and I know there’s strong support from people like myself,” said Gardner.
So far, Congress has resisted the cuts. In the spending plan approved through September, there’s a five percent increase in research and development funding.