The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee has set a budget for Idaho Fish & Game for next year that appears to show a 20.5 percent increase in total funds, but that's largely because of a $13 million federal grant to construct the Springfield Fish Hatchery. Aside from that, it's closer to a 4.3 percent increase; Fish & Game gets no state general funds, operating instead solely with hunting and fishing license and tag fees, other receipts and federal funds. The budget plan, following Gov. Butch Otter's proposal, includes a $100,000 increase in wolf control funds, but doesn't include the department's requests for $300,000 to improve sport fishing access next year or $642,400 to boost regional fisheries programs. The proposal, from Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, passed in the joint committee on a 16-3 vote.
Fish & Game is seeing declining revenues from licenses, but is planning to draw on reserves for next year rather than seek a fee increase; however, a future increase request is likely.
On a 9-10 vote, JFAC defeated "intent language" proposed by Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, to add a clause to the budget declaring that "local units of government have not been given fair consideration from the Department of Fish & Game regarding implementation of the wolf conservation and management plan," and ordering that consultation occur, though that's already required by state law. Several JFAC members said that kind of policy statement seemed inappropriate to include in intent language for a budget bill.