BATON ROUGE, LA — LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander joined almost 200 university leaders across the country in signing an open letter to President Obama and members Congress urging them to “close the innovation deficit.”
“It is important that we are a part of this effort in order to renew our federal government’s investments in research and innovation,” Alexander said. “It’s also important that LSU play a major leadership role in establishing new and innovative federal policies and investment strategies.”
The letter states, “The combination of eroding federal investments in research and higher education, additional cuts due to sequestration, and the enormous resources other nations are pouring into these areas is creating a new kind of deficit for the United States: an innovation deficit. Closing this innovation deficit – the widening gap between needed and actual investments – must be a national imperative.”
The letter warns that ignoring the innovation deficit would have serious consequences, such as a less prepared, less highly skilled U.S. workforce, fewer U.S.-based scientific and technological breakthroughs, fewer U.S.-based patents, and fewer U.S. start-ups, products and jobs.
The university leaders’ initiative comes as Congress faces critical budget decisions in the coming months. Annual funding bills, the debt limit and measures to eliminate or modify the deep across-the-board spending cuts forced by sequestration could all be taken up this fall. While the legislative path for those measures remains unclear, the presidents and chancellors noted that targeted investments in research and higher education can and should be made regardless of overall funding levels because they would be key sources of long-term economic growth and fiscal stability.
The university leaders call upon President Obama and Congress to “reject unsound budget cuts and recommit to strong and sustained investments in research and education. Only then can we ensure that our nation’s promise of a better tomorrow endures.”
For the full letter, originally published on Wednesday in Politico, and list of university leaders who signed, visit http://innovationdeficit.org/home.html.