On Jan. 10 the New York State Senate successfully passed a bill (S.5921) sponsored by Senator Greg Ball, R-Patterson, that defends $20 million federal funding to support free hunter education classes, manage fish and wildlife populations, provide public hunting and boating access and build and maintain public shooting ranges.
The $20 million comes from the federal Pittman- Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Fish Restoration Acts which place excise taxes on fire arms, ammunition archery equipment, fishing equipment, motorboat and small engine fuels. The money is returned to the states each year through grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
States can only receive this funding as long as they agree not to use it, or any other dedicated wildlife funding, for anything besides wildlife conservation or else risk lose their federal apportionments. According to Ball’s Director of Communications, Brittany Oat, sportsmen have contributed a total of $13.7 billion in excise taxes since the creation of the fund since 1937. New York was apportioned a total of $20,348,477 in grant funding.
“As chairman of the New York Sportsmen’s caucus and an avid sportsmen myself, I refuse to stand by and watch the New York state Budget be balanced on the back of New York sportsmen,” said Ball. “By creating a lock box this move ensures that both New York sportsmen and our wildlife populations will be protected for years to come.”
However, Cuomo’s 2011-2012 budget allowed the Division of Budget to use money from the conservation fund to balance the state’s budget which in turn allows for the USFWS to hold back it’s funding.