Last week I learned that The General Appropriations Act of 2013 HB 2 (pgs. 27-29) included a Legislatively Enacted 4% Personal Services Reductions on the Executive Branch agencies (did not impose them on Legislative or Judicial. I could easily come up with some Legislative cuts that would not only be economical, but seriously benefit the Public!), that also affects our Fish, Wildlife and Parks dept., which are being enacted now with a 4% reduction of employees (except wardens, which have 12 vacancies they need to fill as it is). This means we just lost 5 fulltime employees from Wildlife, 6 from Fisheries and "some" from Administration (this may be a position that was already vacated months ago). I called the next morning to Helena FWP to find out the specifics. Ron Aasheim emailed me that the information would be forthcoming this next week.
Heres the thing - FWP is funded 70% by our sportsmens license dollars. Another 30% (29.5%) comes from Federal Revenue generated from the sale of arms, ammo, fishing & boating equipment. Basically, FWP is sportsmens dollars self sufficient, not requiring any State taxpayer paid General Fund dollars (Page 15, big red block at the top). FWP does have a 1/2 of 1% (.5%) State General fund amount that it receives ($309,125) to carry out a portion of Montana's Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program. That is it. Look at that first left hand column, it is 0 all the way down except that line 2.
So why were we included in an employee reduction when we have the dollars to fund FWP? State taxpayers are not funding FWP that the legislature needs to direct a reduction in this agency. Why has the special interest Republican dominated legislature put a stranglehold on our sportsmen's dollars, prohibiting FWP from utilizing our dollars from necessary programs and employees? What about our own license fee increase, which many of us asked for? Why has this same special interest segment also cut FWP's ability to purchase additional public lands for our wildlife habitat with our own sportsmen generated dollars that cant be used for anything else? Who wants to only be a renter or pay a landowner to not develop their own private land, when we can be the landowners and have not only additional habitat for our wildlife, but PUBLIC hunting access opportunities?
Not to say that there cant be some better management at FWP, but these special interest legislators are intentionally hamstringing FWP to fail and then have the big bully brass ones to bitch at FWP for failing! And one has a habit of threatening and intimidating when he doesnt get what he wants.
IR Editorial: New law poses major threats to habitat, access program