Madison Gov. Jim Doyle’s state of the state address did not have
a lot of emphasis on natural resources, but that’s expected to come
when he gives his 2005-07 budget address in February. Then he’ll
present his budget request for the DNR, including his
recommendations on license fee increases, a new stamp for grouse
and woodcock hunters, funding for chronic wasting disease, and
funds to begin new conservation warden recruit classes.
During the Jan. 12 address at the state Capitol, Doyle talked
primarily about Wisconsin’s economy, providing more emphasis on
kids, expanding access to health care, and restoring fiscal
Referring to the Job Creation Act, he said that during the last
session, “We passed the most sweeping regulatory reform effort in
the Midwest cutting red tape, but protecting our environmental
Another reference to natural resources came when he called for
an energy supply that’s adequate and environmentally responsible.
Doyle said his administration had given incentives to communities
that site power plants or transmission lines, and cut by half the
time it takes to get new facilities approved.
“When it comes to our energy future, let’s rely on the Midwest,
not the Mideast,” he said, adding that it’s possible to have a
strong environment and a strong economy.
“We’re working to protect the Great Lakes, combat invasive
species, and lower mercury emissions to protect our air, land, and
water,” he said. “And, under my administration, we’ve permanently
protected more than 42,000 acres of pristine natural areas through
the Stewardship program.”
Doyle reiterated that two years earlier he was faced with a
deficit of $3.2 billion, the largest Wisconsin had ever seen. The
state was able to balance the budget without devastating services
or abandoning values that make Wisconsin what it is, he said.
“Next month, I will outline my budget for the next two years,”
he said. “I will balance this budget the way I balanced the last
one trimming overhead, cutting wasteful spending, and reforming and
redesigning the way Wisconsin does business. And tonight, I renew
my pledge to the people of Wisconsin: I will balance this budget
without raising taxes.”
Whether that budget will call for more reductions in the number
of state employees, and how much he’s willing to recommend to have
general purpose revenues (tax revenues) fund the state’s battle
with CWD, shifting some of the responsibility away from hunting and
fishing license revenues and allowing them to cover more
traditional fish and wildlife management activities, will give
outdoorsmen a clue of what impact it will have on them.
Rep. Scott Gunderson, (R-Union Grove) chairman of the Assembly
Natural Resources Committee, said afterward outdoorsmen and women
will have to stay tuned.
“The outdoors is so important to all citizens, and particularly
hunters and fishermen,” Gunderson said. “We’ll want to watch the
license fee increase that will be a huge issue along with deer
management and the fight against CWD.”
Gunderson said he’s hearing a lot of debate on these issues and
knows people are not happy with the deer herd estimates, deer
seasons, and how the state is managing CWD. He had not yet set a
meeting date for the natural resources committee to begin
“The CWD issue is huge and we have a strong heritage when it
comes to deer hunting,” he said. “Some of us feel that DNR has
relegated deer to a pest status, which is sad.
“On the environmental side, we want to see if there is more
interest in regulatory reform, while keeping natural resources
pristine, and look into renewed interest in sinking wells for
municipalities and its affect on groundwater,” Gunderson said.
Sen. Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn), chairman of the Senate Environment
and Natural Resources Committee, said he congratulated the governor
on his speech and the progress last session that made great strides
in streamlining the regulatory process without affecting the
Kedzie expected some of the coming issues to include enhancing
groundwater quality, combatting endangered and invasive species,
and dealing with CWD in the deer herd.
“We want to be sure that the environment does not take a
backseat,” Kedzie said. “I know a key concern will be the increase
in hunting license fees, and requests for more stamps.”