With Christmas and a new year rapidly approaching, What could be a better present to all New Yorkers than a balanced budget that not only keep taxes and fees from increasing –or at the least, stable? As our Division of Budget and Albany leaders keep hacking away on state agencies’ budgets and personnel, it is and will be the residents of and visitors to New York who will feel the impacts the most. And one of areas this will probably be most evident will be in the quality of our deteriorated natural resources and activities related to them.
As has been documented in this column in the past, the majority of the money annually required to keep the various natural resources programs within the NYSDEC operating comes from the Conservation Fund, an account fed primarily by sporting licenses, permits and sales taxes on gear purchased by recreationists such as anglers, hunters and trappers. And since these funds are required by state law to be used for specific purposes relating to fish, wildlife and habitat, the federal government partially matches these via the Pittman-Robertson and Dingall-Johnson Acts. Only a small amount of state funding to run DEC programs comes from the General Fund, which is the great “slush fund” Albany dips into to feed non-DEC program budget needs.