With 140 budget amendments proposed in the Senate and 235 proposed in the House, there appears to be no shortage of ideas on how to spend a state revenue surplus that could easily reach half a billion dollars by the end of the fiscal year. In recent months, indicators continue to point toward positive growth of major state revenue producers.
Governor Haslam’s proposed budget amendment is expected within the next two weeks. Advocates will recall the Governor’s original budget proposal ranked the West Tennessee 4-H Center (also known as Lone Oaks Farm) second on the Governor’s proposed capital projects list. In recent weeks, however, we have learned that there may be some legislative resistance in supporting this project, UT’s top capital priority.
We remain confident that the 4-H proposal will be adopted by the legislature. As the situation continues to unfold, UT will take every effort to help ensure the project’s smooth passage and broad legislative support. Please be on the lookout for more information on how you can help soon.
The West Tennessee region has been without a 4-H center since 2009, when the previous facility was closed and sold due to budget cuts and inadequate capital maintenance over a period of many years.
The offer of Lone Oaks Farm as a proposed replacement for the West Tennessee 4-H center came forth and was recommended through an exhaustive selection process last year. The more than $30 million dollar facility is being made available to the University for approximately $16 million. The 1,200-acre property comes turnkey-ready—educational programs, events and activities can be offered immediately.
Lone Oaks Farm will be used to teach youth about agriculture, natural resources, and other STEM-related subjects. It will also be used to conduct educational workshops and meetings by industry and agri-business groups, something that is needed and could help spur economic development in the western part of the state. The Center is expected to be self-supporting through the revenue it generates and will help fulfill a key part of the University’s outreach mission.