A week after my rant against our wars, I find that I’m somewhat personally affected by the current budget mess. From Senator Durbin’s office:

If H.R. 1 [the federal FY2011 budget bill] were enacted, it would cut $1.1 billion from the FY11 budget request of $5.121 billion for the Office of Science, $899 million from the $2.355 billion EERE budget, and $250 million from the $300 million ARPA-E budget. This would cause many of the national labs to completely shut down for three months, if not longer.

DOE projects that the House-approved cuts to the Office of Science alone would lead to the loss of 10,000 jobs. In my home state of Illinois, Argonne National Laboratory would let go a third of its staff (more than 1,000 employees) and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory would let go of a quarter of its staff (450 employees). Significant cuts to the Labs will be devastating to the local communities surrounding the labs in Batavia and DuPage County. Suppliers and contractors for the labs, as well as the private companies that use the facilities also would be adversely affected by the closures and layoffs.

And the directors of Argonne and Fermi have given more details in the Chicago Tribune:

The cuts proposed in the U.S. House would have an immediate and massive effect on the Chicago area’s two national laboratories, Argonne and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. This budget effectively reduces both labs’ current budgets by 40 percent, with a loss of $83 million at Fermilab and $110 million at Argonne. We estimate the cuts would require the furlough of 1,900 employees, and layoffs for more than 1,000 others, including more than 100 postdoctoral researchers. Such cutbacks would be unprecedented.

High-tech jobs are just the first casualty of such cuts. Rolling back funding for basic science would dim our nation’s spirit of discovery and entrepreneurship. It would curtail research into how our world works — research that spurs new theories and technologies. And the cuts would be felt across Chicago’s wider high-tech community, which depends on collaboration, new ventures and a workforce trained at some of the world’s most sophisticated facilities.

Now – it isn’t at all likely that my job is in danger. First of all, neither the Senate nor the President support the House bill. Secondly, my group receives its funding from the NIH, not the DOE. Nevertheless, it is likely that there will be some cuts; there probably will be some lost jobs; and the rest of us probably face a few furlough days. It is still very uncertain.

In the near term, the current funding bills expire next Friday, and one of the hot topics is whether there will be a government shutdown. It is not clear what would happen to Argonne in that situation.

All of this just added to my opinion that our budget situation is messed up and that our officials need to do a better job of talking to each other rather than past each other.

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