by Catherine Konieczny
Even without official revenue projections legislators are already planning how they spend the future money they may not have. Spending proposals are popping up one after the other in the legislature, on top of the governor’s spending recommendations. Is it any surprise that proposals have begun to contradict each other?
One of the governor’s recommendations is to give $2 million to fund the Farmland Preservation Trust Fund for the next two years. The money goes to grants for working family farms that get counties and non-profit organizations to apply on their behalf. Any project can receive up to $10,000-$15,000 for activities that promote the conservation of lands that provide food, fiber, and other agricultural products.
At the same time, another recommendation from the governor has been picked up in a senate proposal to fund the Energy Investment Act. The act extends renewable energy tax credits estimated to value $7 million each year. A residential property can receive anywhere from $1,400-$10,500 for installing a renewable energy system on their land. Non-residential properties could receive even more at $2.5 million per installation.
The conflict of interest comes when a farmer could have to choose between either grant. Say a family farm is looking for some way to make a little extra to keep the farm going. With one acre of land they could install a geothermal system and get more money, more easily, from a renewable energy grant than they would if they kept that acre for planting through the Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. Landowners have to pick one, so really the two funds cancel each other out with their different goals. With demands on government spending increasing more and more, why not leave government out of the subsidies game and focus on more fundamental government services?