Letters to the Editor

State budget: How the state helps the farm

There have been letters to the editor, calls to legislators, county officials and members of Greenbank Farm’s Management Group asking: “How can the farm hope to receive financial assistance from the state when schools, law enforcement and transportation have pressing needs but are not in line for assistance?” Let me shed a bit of light on the matter.

Washington state has three separate budgets: Operating, Transportation and Capital. The Operating Budget is financed by TAXES and pays for the day-to-day operating expenses of state agencies, schools and services (employee salaries, goods and services and public assistance).

The Transportation Budget is financed by GAS TAX, FEES and FEDERAL FUNDS and pays operating and capital cost of highways, ferries, rail and State Patrol.

The Capital Budget funds the construction of state buildings, schools, prisons, parks and facilities that relate to local government infrastructure and economic development. The Capital Budget is financed by BONDS. The money available is a set amount that is determined by the bonding capacity of the state. The Capital Budget does not fund teachers’ salaries, human service programs, transportation, or the day-to-day operations of the state.

Greenbank Farm project’s proposed funding is part of an $11.75 million section of the $2.6 billion Capital Budget. That section focuses on local and community projects for economic development. This funding is for projects selected by the Legislature for their community value and relative need in regions throughout the state. The funding is a one-time allocation. Funds allocated to Greenbank Farm project compete only with other economic development proposals from around the state.

Greenbank Farm has tremendous potential for nourishing small business growth and development in Island County: A county that faces high unemployment, an hourly wage below the state mean and loss of sales tax revenue to mainland businesses. While serving that role, entrepreneurial nourisher, the farm will continue to foster tourism and promote Island County-produced goods. This publicly owned and managed 100-year-old jewel needs assistance in developing its full potential.

Tom Baenen

Island County Assessor

Member: Greenbank Farm Management Board.

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