When Jim Gilmore campaigned to become Virginia’s governor some of his most ardent supporters were the state’s anglers and hunters. Now, many of them are hopping-mad because the currently proposed Gilmore budget calls for sizable cuts in the funds that the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries requires to function.
Bob Kane, of the Virginia Hunting Dog Owners Association, says a 20 percent revenue cut at the VDGIF is very possible. “This is a very serious threat to the near-term future of our state’s hunting and fishing,” says Kane.
A 20 percent slash in fish and game funds could mean the closing of some hatcheries and boat ramps. It could also affect ongoing wildlife studies, cancel special hunts, lay off needed personnel, and in the process will certainly result in the loss of certain federal matching funds.
Kane says, “These cuts are preposterous since the DGIF is funded through sportsmen’s user fees, sales taxes on pleasure boats and sporting goods, hunting and fishing license fees, and Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson federal excise tax rebates. In order to compensate for general fund losses in other departments, sportsmen’s money is scheduled to be diverted from DGIF [funds].”
Kane asks that the state’s hunters and fishermen immediately contact governor-elect Mark Warner, along with their General Assembly delegates and senators. “Tell them to leave sportsmen’s money in the DGIF. Hand’s off!” says Kane.
Incidentally, Kane is correct when he says that as our economy slows, sportsmen’s spending as well as fish-and-game funding will naturally decline along with it.
“Don’t let them compound the problem by raiding the DGIF’s budget,” says Kane.
You can check the Virginia Hunting Dog Owners Association Web site for General Assembly contact information. Go to www.hdoa.uplandbirddog.com/state.html. For governor-elect Warner e-mails, use BLeighty@govelect.state.va.us.
Meanwhile, the Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries will hold an emergency meeting 9 a.m., Jan.10, in the Board Room at 4000 West Broad Street, Richmond, to discuss how Gov. Gilmore’s proposed 2002-2004 budget will impact the Department, specifically regarding the proposed transfer of sportsmen’s tax- and fee-generated $6,133,316 to state parks and $1 million from the watercraft sales and use tax to the Marine Patrols Fund of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Additionally, the budget calls for the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to transfer $1,568,293 to the general fund of the State Treasury to help offset the predicted state budget deficit.
The Board will hear a report on how the proposed budget cut of $8.7 million dollars during each year of the next biennium will impact the agency. It is anticipated that the Board will provide guidance to the director of the VDGIF regarding the reduction and/or elimination of programs and services, including agency staff layoffs, should the Department be required to relinquish the proposed anticipated revenue. An opportunity will be provided for public comment and input.
The entire process of taking away what should be dedicated funds the tax and fees income from hunters and anglers to support state programs that were poorly budgeted or overspent reeks to the heavens.
No matter how badly a state government is or has been managed, how can you defend taking away the very funds that were supplied by people who were told that such monies would only be used on programs to benefit those who paid for them?
The great Virginian Thomas Jefferson apparently had good reason to urge his countrymen to be wary of their own government. Our third president must have been a psychic. He knew what would happen when you gave professional bureaucrats too much of a loose leash.
Bass Classic comes to Lay Lake The Bass Anglers Sportsman Society’s 2002 CITGO BASS Masters Classic will be on Lay Lake, Shelby County, Ala., July 25-27. Lay Lake also played host to the 1996 Classic.
The BASS Classic is a kind of world championship of bass fishing. This year’s winner will receive $200,000, twice the money awarded to the 2001 Classic winner, Kevin VanDam, in New Orleans during the past summer. BASS, which is owned by cable TV sports channel ESPN, says 30 qualifiers from the professional tour and the top five amateur anglers in the land will compete.