Help Prevent Budget Cuts to CRCF And VBHRC
Thursday, February 27, 2014
The House and Senate have passed their respective versions of the 2014-2016 budget, and conferees have been chosen from each Chamber to find a common compromise final budget before March 8, when the Session is scheduled to adjourn. This year, in addition to multiple relatively small but important budget lines at issue, the proposed Medicaid expansion looms over all with very large budget implications this biennium and into the future.
Two budget cuts are the focus of Virginia Bio’s current communications with legislators and their staff, and we need your help. The cuts would be to the Commonwealth Commercialization Research Fund (CRCF), and to the Virginia Bioscience Health Research Corporation (VBHRC).
Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund
First, unexpectedly the House budget bill cut funding for the CRCF - the Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF) administered by CIT. The cut is significant, from $4.8 million per year down to $3,0 million per year. CRCF funding is directed to Virginia companies, universities and research institutions for the commercialization of high potential research. Historically more than 60% of all CRCF funds awarded have gone to the life sciences. It is an important resource for translating research technologies and emerging companies. We are urging a return to full funding for CRCF.
Virginia Bioscience Health Research Corporation
Separately, funding for VBHRC was zeroed out in the first year of the biennium in the House budget, though maintained fully the second year in both bills. This new program is poised to make a significant difference in the commercialization of breakthrough bioscience technologies in the Commonwealth, and the way our industry and universities collaborate with one another. VBHRC (the "Catalyst”) is a state created non-profit corporation that awards grants to collaborations of two or more of the Commonwealth’s major public research universities and private industry which are aimed at near term, commercialization of translational research with the potential to have a major impact in the biosciences health field. VBHRC has caused countless new contacts and incentivized collaboration across the state, and soon the first round of grants will be announced. Its original two year funding is expiring. Virginia Bio supports this funding as was found at the Governor’s Introduced Budget Item 101 (J). It is important to give this innovative and bold program time and resources to show the impact it can have on our industry and on Virginia’s economy.
Please communicate to your legislators, and in particular to legislators who are budget conferees, the importance of maintaining same level funding for the CRCF and for VBHRC. (The list of budget conferees appears below.)
Fortunately the two legislative initiatives Virginia Bio worked earlier in the Session, the R&D Tax Credit and Anti-Patent Troll bills, look in good shape as is, with identical House and Senate Bills having unanimous or near unanimous passage, and we expect no problems after crossover.
Please communicate to Senator McDougle and Delegate Comstock our appreciation for their sponsorship of this important legislation.
Please take a moment and thank Senator Richard Stuart for his leadership in bringing together various perspectives to reach a balanced compromise, and Attorney General Mark Herring whose office facilitated the negotiations and the redrafting. The final legislation will give tools to stop egregious patent trolls, but not create undue expense and risk to bona fide holders to enforce bona fide patents.
S. Chris Jones (R) 76
R. Steven “Steve” Landes (R) 25
M. Kirkland "Kirk" Cox (R) 66
John M. O'Bannon, III (R) 73
Thomas A. "Tag" Greason (R) 32
Johnny S. Joannou (D) 79
Walter A. Stosch (R) 12
Charles J. Colgan, Sr. (D) 29
Janet D. Howell (D) 32
Thomas “Tommy” K. Norment, Jr. (R) 3
Emmett W. Hanger, Jr.
John C. Watkins (R) 10
Richard L. Saslaw (D) 35