Stimulus bill supports MUSC, NIH funding
week, I wrote to you about the federal economic stimulus bill and the
opportunities that it might bring to the medical university. Some
important and positive developments have occurred in the interim, so
this update is intended to provide additional information. As this is a
complicated topic, and one that is changing on an almost daily basis,
the description provided here should be viewed as the best information
available today, and we will provide further updates as we learn more.
The South Carolina House Ways and Means Committee is preparing their
recommended budgets for the next fiscal year. Last week, they proposed
allocating the education portion of the federal stimulus funds to K-12
and higher education budgets. For MUSC, this corresponds to an increase
of $15.1 million for each of the next two years. Even with this
replaced money, we would still have $6.5 million less money next year
than we had at the beginning of this fiscal year. Still, we are very
grateful for this support because, as recently as two weeks ago, we
were anticipating the possibility of further cuts in state funding.
It is useful to remember that this is just the beginning of the budget
process. The House Ways and Means proposal must be approved by the full
House, followed by the Senate, and the governor, with a resolution of
any vetoes. In other words, it will be months before we have a final
budget for next year, and along the way, it is likely that changes will
be made. Equally important, there are stipulations within the federal
stimulus bill, with regard to restoring state education funding to
prior levels. The proposed budget does not meet those stipulations, so
South Carolina would have to obtain a waiver from the federal
government. In other words, we cannot count on these new funds yet, but
we will do our best to work with our elected officials to secure them.
It is important to remember that, even if awarded, the federal funds
provide no benefit for the current fiscal year, which runs through the
end of June. Therefore, the measures that we have taken to deal with
our current budget, including furloughs and limited
reductions-in-force, cannot be rescinded. The new money would help us
to avoid furloughs in the coming year, however, allowing us to make a
smoother and more thoughtful transition to the new realities of reduced
state funding. We still have to find significant organizational
efficiencies, but we can do so in a more orderly transition than we
thought possible even a few weeks ago.
Another critical opportunity for us created by the federal stimulus
bill, which could result in even more new money than the education
component, is the $10 billion increase in appropriations to the
National Institutes of Health (NIH). For the next update letter, I have
asked Dr. Steve Lanier, the associate provost for research, to provide
a summary of these funding opportunities and how we plan to compete for
In the meantime, thanks again for all that you are doing for MUSC and for the people of South Carolina.
Raymond S. Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D.
Friday, Feb. 27, 2009