Without any hunting license or related fee increases since 1998, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s financial safety net has all but rotted away to nothingness.
The Commission’s executive director, Carl G. Roe, today addressed the Pennsylvania state legislature as part of the agency’s reporting mandate.
His comments regarding the agency’s finances were grim. Noting that while the agency has $39 balance that is only about one-half of its budget authorization.
Even with royalties collected from gas and oil drilling revenues - totaling $12 million last year - the typical revenue-generation process is normally one-half that, Roe told the legislators.
“Marcellus Shale revenue has allowed us to barely tread water, but not allowed us to move forward with much needed funding to support our diverse wildlife habitat and species management program,” Roe said.
Almost as bad, while the Game Commission received an increase in federal funding through the excise tax on firearms and ammunition the agency was obligated to spend more to get this cash. In effect, a two-steps-forward and one-step-back approach to finances.
To maintain agency solvency Roe encouraged the legislature to approve increases to all types of hunting licenses and permits.
Likewise, Roe asked that the legislature adopt an excise tax on shooting and hunting equipment like firearms, archery tackle and ammunition as well as give the agency some of the state and local sales tax receipts.
Roe’s argument for this last request is that hunting contributes around $212 million in such tax receipts. Thus the agency deserves a share of this pie, Roe reasons.
Lastly, Roe is asking the legislature for permission to allow the Commission to set license fees on a graduating basis. This would take control over license increases out of the hands of the elected officials and allow them to be set by unelected bureaucrats.
That request will almost certainly fail as will any request to siphon off sales tax receipts.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn