At the conclusion of the House Game and Fisheries Committee hearing, new Majority Chair Rep. Martin Causer, called for another study by the Leg. Budget & Finance Committee, on the issue of combining our fish and game agencies in PA.
Same study was done some years ago and didn't pinpoint any actual advantages to going in that direction. Now all these years later, here we go again.
Some of this is in response to complaints; Some in response to both agencies needing additional funding, which is one reason Rep. Causer says the study is needed now: Their "financial difficulties".
Well, since Game hasn't had a general license increase since <span style="font-weight: bold">1999</span>, I wonder why they may have financial difficulties now, in <span style="font-weight: bold">2013</span>???
Causer has a mission.... and it doesn't look to be for the benefit of sportsmen in this state. But his buddies in Unified found a champion.
Sad thing is, in the quest for more deer for the sake of more deer, the Rep, those like him, and those supporting their efforts have the very real chance of causing irreparable harm to our hunting traditions.
Met with Rep. Causer last month and wouldn't go that far. But so far he seems mostly bent on hammering the Game Commission?
No different at today's HG&F Comm. meeting with PGC.
He brought up "no deer" complaints from his constituents in Potter, McKean and Cameron; Questioned the funding for PGC from shale gas activities; Cited a "need" for higher PGC payments in lieu of taxes on SGLs; And a few other issues that I thought didn't speak very well of his understanding of many things relative to PGC.
Some of the Reps were far worse. One questioned a need for a license increase, but didn't understand some things about current fees, including how much he spends each year on his own license.
One went into another anti-PGC tirade (did the same thing last year, until the chair finally cut him off); Ranted about various studies on license sales and funding; Grumbled about PGC donating to Hawk Mtn. and had nothing but negative comments. Most of which illustrated how little he knows about much of anything. No surprise, he's always been that way, but not bashful about opening his yap and displaying his ignorance.
BTW, he was dead wrong on insisting that one study showed PA license sales are still declining, because actual sales data shows a 2% increase last year and about a 1.15% so far this year. He insisted we're only selling 700,000 licenses, when the figure is actually over 900,000.
Pains me to see how most of these people fail to understand much about how PGC does things, yet they're the ones in the catbird seat, telling PGC how to do things and deciding what PGC can and cannot do. Phooey!
Pretty much the same thing that's going on with Rep. Causer's counterpart on the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee.
Late last year he advocated cutting most Resident license fees in half, because of "all the shale gas money rolling in".
That's been one of USP's favorite yaks for the past two years, despite the actual fact that the several millions from gas exploration is a fraction of what a sensible fee increase from $20 several years ago, would've brought in.
Go back to about 2005, which is when the House G&F Comm. was told the then-current raise to a $20 fee during the 1998 session, would begin to be insufficient to fund the agency. A $5 raise beginning in 2006, would've raised an additional $35 million in the years since, just on license fees alone. Even more, had it started at $5 by 2006, then an additional $5 midway on from then?
Means we'd now be paying $30 for a general license at this point. What the shale gas money has done, is provide needed funds that no one could've predicted happening back in 1999, when the license went to $20.
Since then, timber revenues have fallen drastically. Costs have gone up three or four times in some cases: vehicle fuel, energy costs, employee costs (set by the adminstration, not PGC) and dozens of other expenditures needed to run the agency.
Shale gas revenues have been an unexpected windfall in the years since no license increase was granted, so without those funds, PGC would've been in very bad shape financially. Yet no one on The Hill will support a license fee increase from $20. They'd much sooner brow beat the Exec. Director and the agency, to "look good" to the folks back home.