Fee hikes could be part of Doyle plan

Madison Nothing has changed since Jan. 10, when the DNR
presented the Conservation Congress Executive Council with a
proposed hunting, fishing and trapping license fee hike for 2004
that would bump gun and bow deer licenses by $12, a conservation
patron license by $30 and a resident fishing license by $6.

Will those proposed fee hikes remain in place? Even DNR budget
experts are waiting to see what Gov. Jim Doyle will do with DNR
license fees when he reveals his proposed state budget Tuesday,
Feb. 18.

“We’ve been working with governor on this, but as far as the
final package, we’re not going to know until we get close to the
budget message, which is going to be Feb. 18,” said Joe Polasek,
DNR budget director. “They’re going to make final call.”

Polasek did note that Doyle has expressed support for hunting,
fishing and trapping license fee increases, given that it’s been
seven years since the last fee increase.

For the last couple weeks, Polasek and his crew have been
working with the Department of Administration, but mostly in an
informational sense.

“We’re just making sure they know what happens if there are cuts
in programs, or what they’d have to raise through alternate funding
to maintain a program if they cut back the proposed fee increases,”
he said.

The DNR has developed a list of proposed fee hikes for all
resident and nonresident licenses.

For nonresidents, an annual fishing license would increase by $6
(to $39.50), gun and bow deer would go up $25 (to $159.50) and a
patrons would go up $25 (to $600). The biggest proposed increase
for nonresidents would be for a bear harvest tag up $50 to
$250.

Resident trappers would see a $2 increase. A resident turkey
license would go up $3, a resident bear harvest tag would go up
$8.50; a bear pursuit $6 more. Small game would increase $6, but
the junior small game would go up $2.

Polasek said the proposed fee increases are one way of getting
at a projected $40 million deficit over the next two years (by end
of 2005) for the DNR.

“We haven’t given the governor a specific preferred package. Our
goal is to try to minimize the negative impacts we will have on
programs, but also be aware that the public will be concerned about
how high fees are going to be. We’re also looking for alternate
funding sources so sportsmen aren’t paying all of the cost of the
CWD effort,” Polasek said. “Unfortunately, there is nothing new in
way of alternative funding popping onto the radar screen.”

After Doyle announces his budget on Feb. 18, it will go to the
Legislature, where it will be reviewed by the Joint Finance
Committee and standing committees in both houses. Polasek said
state budgets are usually finalized by early July.

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