Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Governor Warner's Budget and Biotechnology

Back in 2002, Governor Warner created the "Governor's Advisory Board for the Virginia Biotechnology Initiative." The group was charged with identifying initiatives to ensure that the Commonwealth is well positioned as an attractive location for the bioscience industry.

Over the course of three years, the commission released a number of reports and persistently advocated for projects that were, in the eyes of the members, critical to maintain the companies we had, let alone be an attractive place for those interested in relocation.

The major recommendations of the Commission were distilled down into a short list of projects. The governor included $10 million in bonds for the biotech shell buildings project in 2004, but that language was stripped out by the House and Senate money committees. In 2005, the governor surprised all of us when he included no money at all for the facilities initiative. VaBIO took up the effort and recruited sponsors for budget amendments that were ultimately unsuccessful.

Now we are closing in on the governor's final budget before he leaves office in January. This is the last chance we have before a new administration arrives in town and the whole economic development study commission process starts all over again and we are back to square one.

Governor Warner has been quoted in a few places saying that he is planning to include significant funding in his last budget for a biomedical project of some kind. We sincerely hope that he will utilize the recommendations his biotech commission has provided after literally years of study and hard work.

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