Regarding “Official: Fish and Boat Commission’s future in danger” (March 30, Page 1).
The commission is facing a $6 million-plus deficit in 2018-19; the legislature has refused to grant a license fee increase for almost 13 years, and a majority of the commissioners (six out of 10) voted to support Executive Director John Arway’s recommended $2 million budget cut.
Under Arway’s prudent fiscal management over the past eight years, the PFBC has managed to save many programs, including fish hatchery production, by cutting back here and there, year after year. During this time, overall PFBC staff was reduced from 432 to 366. The commission receives no state tax revenue and is at a crossroads where it must cut programs (including trout production hatcheries) to not spend more than it receives in license fees and federal grant dollars.
The license increase legislation (SB 30) before the House Game and Fisheries Committee authorizes a $6 license fee increase with 3 percent increases in future years. That’s less than a quarter-pounder, fries and drink at McDonald’s. We know from surveying anglers that a majority of them favor a license fee increase over cutting more programs and services.
Part of the initial $2 million budget cutting plan included closing one trout hatchery and two warm water hatcheries.
Legislators continue to push forward with a bill (SB935) to fire Arway. It will be voted on sometime in April.
I know John Arway to be a dedicated, passionate and ethical public service employee who has devoted 38 years of his career to fighting for the fish and aquatic resources in Pennsylvania, for the rights and privileges of Pennsylvania anglers, and for the PFBC.