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Request for Letters of Support

A Special Message From the Director of Minnesota Sea Grant

Dear Readers,

There is a potentially dire situation for the Minnesota Sea Grant program unfolding in Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, March 28, 2017, the President sent Congress a request for drastic cuts to many government programs related to everything from the environment to health and human services and education — in order to immediately free-up funds to increase defense spending.

One of the programs slated to be cut by $30 million in fiscal year 2017 is the National Sea Grant College Program. The proposed cut wipes out the remaining budget of Sea Grant and would terminate the National Sea Grant Office the day such a budget cut became effective. If Congress approved of this budget cut, we and the services we provide Minnesotans could be gone in a matter of months after that.

This cut would immediately eliminate funding dedicated to providing scholarships and fellowships to Minnesota college students, immediately stop us from funding research projects addressing critical issues affecting Minnesota's economy and environment, and immediately stop our ability to provide huge benefits for the state of Minnesota as summarized in the attached "by the numbers" document. Many people would likely lose their jobs, and we would no longer be able to create or sustain many other jobs in the private sector. The same would happen in each of the other 32 Sea Grant programs around the nation.

Sea Grant has a greater return on investment of federal funds than any other government program we are aware of, and we are outstanding in our ability to use federal dollars, leveraged with private, local and state dollars, to address the issues identified as most important by state constituents.

I want you to know that there is strong bipartisan support for Sea Grant in Congress, and there has been for 50 years. And I continue to be optimistic that this fiscal year 2017 budget cut will not happen to Sea Grant because of our strong bipartisan Congressional support.

Importantly, it will take your support to sustain it and us!

If you value the Sea Grant program, you can help. The President only makes requests — it is Congress who takes actions when it comes to the budget. While the strong bipartisan support of Sea Grant by members of Congress has not changed, there are many programs now on the chopping block or facing drastic cuts in fiscal year 2017. If members of Congress receive a huge number of supportive emails from people who deeply value a particular program, it will make a significant difference with regard to the outcome.

If you decide to contact members of Congress about Sea Grant, we suggest some sample wording to be used in your email that contains specific language, which Congressional members and their staff will recognize as pertaining to this proposed cut or elimination of the program.

Note that hard copy letters take months to arrive in Congressional offices, but emails are taken immediately. Some Congressional offices have online forms to provide comments.

Thank you,
Dr. John A. Downing, Director
Minnesota Sea Grant
University of Minnesota Duluth
31 W. College Street
Duluth, MN 55812-1198
(218) 726-8715
downing@umn.edu

Contact Your Representatives

For the House of Representatives you can easily search for names of members of Congress and contact information here: http://www.house.gov/representatives

For the Senate you can search here: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Letter of Support Template (March 2017 Version)

Download the letter as a Word DOC or copy the text from below ...

Dear Senator ___________ OR
Dear Representative _________________

I am writing to urge you to reject the Administration's proposal in the FY 2017 Security Supplemental that would cut the National Sea Grant College Program (Sea Grant) by $30 million. Such a reduction with five months remaining in this fiscal year would effectively terminate the program in August 2017. We also ask you to reject the Administration's FY 2018 proposal to zero out and terminate the Sea Grant program.

Sea Grant is a cost-effective, competitive, merit-based partnership program that helps local, state, and regional Great Lakes, ocean and coastal entities address economic and environmental challenges through research, extension, and education. The federal funding provided by Sea Grant is matched with other non-federal resources and 95% of all federal funding leaves Washington, D.C. to fund research and other activities that assist Great Lakes and seaboard coastal businesses and communities in addressing critical issues affecting their economies and environments.

[Insert personalized text here reflecting your perspectives about the program as you have experienced it in Minnesota]

On the national scale, in 2015-16 the Sea Grant program helped generate an estimated $575 million in economic impacts; created or sustained nearly 21,000 jobs; provided 33 state-level programs and 534 communities with technical assistance on sustainable development practices; worked with about 1,300 industry, local, state and regional partners; and supported the education and training of almost 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The Sea Grant program achieved this with a Congressional appropriation in FY 2016 of $73 million, which, as mentioned previously, is leveraged with matching funds provided by states, universities, and other sources.

We urge you to reject the Administration's FY 2017 proposal to immediately cut $30 million from NOAA's Sea Grant program as part of the FY 2017 Security Supplemental Appropriation — and — reject the Administration's FY 2018 proposal to defund Sea Grant and end this valuable federal — state — local partnership program.

Attached is some additional information on the Sea Grant program in our state [Minnesota Sea Grant "By the Numbers" - http://www.seagrant.umn.edu/downloads/mnsg-by-the-numbers.pdf]. Thank you for your attention and support on these important matters.

Sincerely,

Contact:

John A. Downing
Director

This page last modified on April 05, 2017     © 1996 – 2017 Regents of the University of Minnesota     The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
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