Congressman Bill Foster

Representing the 11th District of Illinois

VIDEO: Rep. Foster Calls For Renewed Investment In Education, R&D

Mar 7, 2013
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Congressman Bill Foster (IL-11) testified before the House Budget Committee on the importance of investing in education, research and development.

You can view video of Congressman Foster’s remarks here:

A full transcript is below:

Thank you Mr. Chairman and to the ranking member for the opportunity to speak before the committee today.

So, as this committee prepares its budget for FY 2014, I urge you to consider the differences between the fraction of investment that our country makes with the idea of maximizing economic growth, from the fraction of the investments our country makes because of the kind of people we are.

There are things like military investments, taking care of our elderly, that do not have any economic return on investment, and yet we have to make these. There are other investments that we make because of the long-term and short-term economic growth.

And so I’d like to highlight the importance of preserving our investments in the highest payoff activities that our government is involved in: namely, education and research and development. Both of these have obviously been severely threatened by the sequestration and other budget cuts that are talked about.

My district in the Chicago area spans two great scientific centers: Argonne National Laboratory, and Fermilab—Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, where I worked for 20 years. The economic impact of Argonne and Fermilab in Illinois is estimated to be more than $1.3 Billion annually, and has historically, and will in the future, have enormous spin off benefits throughout our country.

Projects in the pipeline at these labs hold even more promise for revitalizing our energy and manufacturing sectors. For example, the Argonne National Laboratory was recently selected for an award of $120 million over five years to establish a new batteries and energy storage hub, which is a very serious and well thought out effort, competitively bid and won by Argonne National Lab, in an effort to achieve revolutionary advances in battery performance. They are targeting battery improvements in excess of a factor of five, which will make battery driven cars a reality; an economic reality, as well as a theoretical one.

This project, like many others, that could and will create new industries and support thousands of jobs, now faces an uncertain future. By some estimates, the cuts from sequestration to R & D will result in the loss of six hundred thousand jobs over the next three years.  We’ll not only lose these near-term R&D jobs, we’ll see the ripple effects in communities and we’ll see the long term damage from a loss of economic competitiveness in our country.

With wages as a record low percentage of the economy, it is not time to retreat or stop investing in American innovation, which supports high wage activities. We need to maintain this competitive advantage now and in the future.

A second subject I’d like to highlight is the issue of donor states and the redistribution of wealth among the states in our country. Illinois is one of many donor states.  It is, a state that is under financial distress, in no small part because of the fact that Illinois only receives back 75 cents for every dollar in taxes that it pays to the federal government. There are many other states in a similar situation. In Illinois’ case, this multiplies out to about $1,600 per person and roughly $20 Billion for the entire state. If even a fraction of this money returned to the state we would not have a fiscal crisis in Illinois at this moment.

Illinois and other donor states can no longer afford to continue subsidizing the recipient states to the extent that they do. I urge the leadership of this committee to craft a budget that replaces the mindless cuts of the sequester with sensible investments that maximize the return on investment of federal dollars, instead of mindless cookie-cutter cuts.  And also one that begins to address the imbalance of donor and recipient states.

While there are areas where cuts are reasonable and necessary, it is unreasonable and irresponsible to make these deep cuts in programs, like investments in research and development, that do provide a high return on investment and are already underfunded.

Thank you all, I yield back my time.