This is a cut & paste of the WDF&W Commissions budget decision recently. Rather important in every sense.
Budget Policy 2015-17
(Draft revised 09/1/2014)
Reduction in General Funds and Increase in License Fees
The Department’s share of General Funds - State (GF-S) has
declined dramatically over the past five years, decreasing from $110 million in
2008 to $61 million in 2014. Once again this year, the Department was directed
to prepare and submit a budget with additional GF-S reductions of 15%, or
roughly $11 million. The cuts presented in that submission are distributed over
the activities that are largely supported with GF-S: enforcement, habitat
protection, native fish recovery, and fish management activities associated
with commercial fisheries.
Over this same period, the share of Department costs
supported with sport fishing license revenues has grown. License fees were
increased three years ago and now represent the largest single portion of
funding. The Department now faces increased costs of maintaining existing
services. In addition, we see the potential of additional cuts in future
biennia to allow the state to meet its K-12 educational obligations under the
McCleary decision. The Department also faces the prospects of additional
reductions in federal funding that support hatchery production and critical
fishery sampling and monitoring activities. If it is to maintain and expand
opportunity for recreational fishing, the Department must pursue additional fee
Approach for Sport Fishing License Fee Increases
The Commission recognizes the benefits of sport fishing
across the state in generating funding for agency activities well beyond
fishery management cost. Deposited in the Wildlife Account, user fees support
such things as native fish recovery, fish production, and a variety of costs
associated with management of the fisheries.
It is the policy of the Department to ensure that
recreational license fees are used for the benefit of the sport fishery. To be
successful, the Department is committed to working closely with the sport
fishing community to define the new fee structure and to identify specifically
the use of the new revenue created from the new fees.
The Commission recognizes that increased fees can be
counterproductive. Increased fees can lead to declines in sales. To counteract
that response, the Department must develop specific proposals that result in
increased sport fishing opportunity.
The Commission believes that it would be beneficial to look
for ways to make practical commitments to expand sport fishing opportunities at
the same time that it pursues a course during this Legislative Session that avoids
the need for additional license increases in the next two biennia.
Cost Benefit Analysis and Budget Decisions: Salmon
The Director will provide a report to the Commission that
includes all the available information relative to the costs of providing and
managing sport and commercial fisheries including enforcement, monitoring, and
hatchery production costs. The Director will include in his report a breakdown
of the revenue sources that support the activities (GFS, federal, local, DJ).
Within existing resources, the Director will also report to the Commission the
Department’s best estimates of the economic benefits and license revenues that
are derived by the state from each major salmon fishery, e.g. Puget Sound,
Willapa Bay, and the Columbia River.
It is the policy of the Department that consideration be
given to the comparable economic and agency revenue benefits of respective
fisheries as various cuts, fee increases, and policy changes are proposed and
discussed by budget decision-makers.
Promote Selective Fisheries
The Commission adopted policies that support hatchery and
harvest reform and realigned management in a number of specific fisheries to
promote more selective harvest practices. The Director will ensure that the
Department’s biennial budget submission includes elements that significantly
advance selective fisheries and hatchery reform measures.
Equitable Sharing of the Costs of Management
In light of continued reduction of GF-S, the Commission
directs the Department to seek means to recoup the costs of hatchery production
and management of commercial fisheries from the participants in the commercial
fisheries or reduce agency activities in support of these fisheries.
The cost of managing and maintaining commercial fisheries
has long been funded with general fund revenue. Commercial licenses provide very
limited revenues to offset management costs -- roughly 4% of the costs of these
fisheries. Unlike sport fishing license revenue, funds from the sale of
commercial salmon licenses largely go directly to the state treasury. The
sizable reduction in general fund revenue that the Department has experienced
over the last two biennia has left it without the financial means to continue
providing the existing commercial fisheries the hatchery fish that sustain
them. The Director will include in his legislative requests submission a
proposal that is designed to raise new revenues from commercial license holders
that will help offset the costs of providing commercial salmon fishing
Posted on Mon, September 15, 2014
by Dave Hamilton