Budgetary Shut-downs Cost Agriculture, Too

Nor' east Thinkin'

How even state budget wrangling delays hurt agriculture, add unnecessary costs

Published on: April 9, 2011

Our nation focuses on the continual political wrangling over the federal budget. But legislative foot-dragging over finishing state budgets ahead of deadline also have a huge impact on many programs and services.

Here are two examples of why deadlines for finishing budgets must be moved much farther forward from when the fiscal year actually begins.

New York Governor Cuomo's proposed ag budget left many programs hanging high and dry. Without assurance of funding, a number of programs had no choice but to close the doors and lay off employees.

New York Farm Viability Institute, for example, oversees multiple programs and research.
On March 31, they did what they had to do. When there was no projected money to even pay the rent, it had to be more than a temporary shutdown.

A few days later, the legislature restored their funding. So now, the board of directors must restart the business and renew contracts – just as any private business would have to do, all because of the state's slow budgetary process.

Shift now to Pennsylvania and Governor Corbett's "zero-funding" budget process. Until, the legislature [and the governor] approve restored funds, the same thing happens.

In the case of the governor's proposed 52% draconian Penn State cut, the university, including the College of Ag Sciences and Cooperative Extension, was forced to prepare draconian plans in case the funds aren't restored. Since the legislative "sausage making" is still underway, restored funding still isn't a sure bet.

But the ugly process is causing what's likely to be unnecessary angst to at least 440 permanent employees and disrupting four research centers and 67 county Extension offices.

By the way, my previous blog was on the mark. Pennsylvania's proposed draconian cuts were arbitrarily proposed by the governor's Department of Education, without understanding the far-reaching impact. It's an example of political "sausage making" at its worst.

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