Popular trout, redfish fishing location has been closed since BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Louisiana, like every state in the Union, is facing a budget shortfall. That tends to happen when our nation’s economy, which has always been and always will be cyclical, has a downturn.
As a result, state leaders are scratching and scrounging for nickels wherever they can find them.
But Gov. Bobby Jindal is looking in the wrong place.
While he campaigned and during his time in office, Jindal has pledged repeatedly not to raise taxes. I applaud him for that. States with high tax rates push wealth from their borders (see California, New York and Illinois), and invariably end up worse off in the long run.
Rather than increasing taxation during an economic downturn, the only logical path is to decrease spending. But, oh, how politicians hate to shrink the spending from which they derive their control.
The dimwits in Washington are a perfect example. In order to pay for our now-bloated federal government, current tax rates would have to increase for everyone by 144 percent, according to Heritage Foundation research. Everybody in favor of paying nearly 2 1/2 times your current tax rate, raise your hand!
So Jindal has refused to raise taxes, but he’s also disinclined to make the commensurate cuts. As such, he’s proposing to take money from some dedicated funds, like the state’s Artificial Reef Program.
Part of the reason is understandable. Nearly every dollar that comes into the state’s coffers is dedicated, which means that if a governor wants to balance the budget, he can cut only two areas: education and healthcare.
Needless to say, that’s not a very popular move.
So Jindal has spied the $32 million sitting in the Artificial Reef Fund, and wants to apply $27 million of it to the state’s budget shortfall.
That’s an unfortunate turn of events for recreational anglers, who have had to endure Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, an oil spill and an epic flood, all in the last six years.
Ironically, it was Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike that made the Artificial Reef Fund so big. Those storms blew multi-ton rigs and platforms around like they were desert dust, and oil companies had to fork over big bucks in order to turn the decommissioned metal into artificial reefs.
Since then, the department has used money from the fund to construct some fantastic projects, including the new, state-of-the-art research lab on Grand Isle and the under-construction Independence Island artificial reef.
Both those projects will benefit anglers for decades to come, and they wouldn’t have been possible without Artificial Reef Fund money.
As it stands now, the department has several hurdles to clear any time it wants to tap into the fund, including application to the Legislature for approval. But before that can ever happen, the department has to identify worthy projects, study them and be prepared to argue for them with actual facts. All of that takes time.
This leadership team at the department has been more aggressive in its goals of aiding the best fisheries in North America than any I’ve seen in the last two decades, but it takes money to do so.
Funds dedicated for that end should spent by the department, not pilfered from it.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Louisiana Sportsman encourages our users to let their legislative representatives know what they think of this proposal. Click here to find contact information for your state senator, and go here to contact state representatives.
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