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Quick Note

Okay, I know I told you to take a break, but I just stumbled across some information that I should have seen sooner. SB425, the Walleye Welfare Act to magically discover more funding for the Fort Peck Warm Water Hatchery was re-written to do away with the warm water license stamp and increase your general license fee by $2. That’s not news, but I just happened to glance at the Fiscal Note for the new bill and found some interesting math.

Since the Governor says he will not sign any fee increases from this legislative session, the Senate Fish and Game committee did some “creative accounting” to find funding for the hatchery. Their estimate is that “Operation costs will rise $80,000 with increased production of fish at the Fort Peck Hatchery. Repeal of the warm water fish stamp will result in the loss of revenue.” Myself, I am unaware of any legislation that would repeal the warm water stamp. That’s what’s creative about their solution. The Fiscal Note is for the “2011 Biennium”. So, they are already taking it for granted that the warm water stamp will go away in the next legislature. Boy, now there is a pre-emptive vote!

In the mean time, the committee will find the extra $80,000 to run the hatchery by changing the law and using Federal Funds that are denied to them by the current law and the warm water stamp revenue. “Effective March 1, 2012, the warm water fish stamp is eliminated.” and “Revenue will be reduced by $282,506.” (this is hidden in the Fiscal Note and is not mentioned in the legislation!) Gee, what are we going to do to fund our dream hatchery after we use up the balance of the warm water stamp funds?  I know, how ’bout “…general license funds will entirely fund the Fort Peck Hatchery at a cost of $436,059.jimbos2

Presto! No fiscal impact this year or next. Of course, to get the funding they have to assume that every fisherman in the state will just love to pay $2 more for their license to fund the most expensive hatchery in the state and raise fish that most of them will never fish for. But hey, that will be solved in the next legislature. We did our part. We made the law that makes it all but inevitable that license fees will go up.

What is not mentioned in the bill is that the $436,059 to run the hatchery will come out of the budget of FWP and be taken away from current projects and staffing where it is really needed. That money will not magically appear on top of what we are spending now. I’m not quite sure how they came up with that number anyway. If it cost $401,269 to run the hatchery in 2008 and the cost is going to go up by $80,000, that seems to be a bit more than $436,000 and change. Maybe they are counting on a lot more deflation of the economy.  Or maybe I’m missing something in the legislation.

So anyway, after the bill was rewritten, it still doesn’t make sense and we need to have a serious talk with our House members and let them know that we don’t want this to happen. For some good background information, run on over to Will Fish For Work. Okay, back to your Moose Drool.

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One Response

  1. […] on it – detailing the shenanigans of the fiscal note drawn up for the bill, in this post, titled Quick Note. Now, we’ve blogged that one here, too – but Button Valley Bugle’s done it much better. […]

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