The Reynolds Game Farm costs approximately $750,000 to operate, annually; the bulk of this is cost of staff/labor. On the surface, the Governor's proposal and reasoning seem rational. After all, the State's current economic conditions demand cuts across the board to attempt to close an ever-widening budget deficit. Certainly, anywhere the Governor can save the taxpayers money is something to pursue.
The Deputy Commissioner of the Environment, Judith Enck, echoed this position in an email, dated Dec. 22, 2008 when she stated the following:
"Recreational hunting is an important economic and recreational activity. The more than 60,000 pheasant hunters in New York contribute to the State economy by spending money on hunting trips and equipment. However, with the State facing a $13.7 billion deficit in 2009-2010, the benefits of this program do not justify the $750,000 expended annually for the Reynolds Game Farm. Indeed, the Governor's Budget made similar choices in all areas; major cuts are proposed in education, health care, state facilities and many other areas of importance."
Indeed, other organizations, chiefly the Humane Society of the United States, echoed this justification in a letter of support of this move, dated Dec. 9, 2008, which stated that the taxpayers should not pay for such activities, which reduces the effectiveness of the fund that delivers wildlife management to NYS.
Unfortunately, for the Governor and Albany officials, funding of the game farm and pheasant program does not come from the taxpayers. This notion being put forth is effectively a lie.
The pheasant farm receives 100% of its funding from the NY Conservation Fund. Unless you purchase a sporting license in NYS (hunting, fishing or trapping), you pay not one penny towards this $750,000.00. Therefore, the measure will not save the taxpayer any money at all.
However, through attempting to save this voluntarily contributed money, Governor Paterson is about to perpetrate one of the great injustices upon NY taxpayers we have seen in a while.