Washington’s natural resource agencies must cut $11 million more from their budgets starting just two weeks from now; WDFW’s share is $2,159,000.
Yesterday, Gov. Chris Gregoire ordered 6.287 percent across-the-board cuts, representing $520 million, for all departments in response to further revenue shortfalls that have struck Washington during the recession.
For WDFW, the cuts come on the back of a $35 million dropoff in General Fund support between the 2007-09 and 2009-11 budgets and loss of 163 jobs.
DNR must cut $2.36 million, DOE $3.32 million.
The reductions are effective October 1 and stretch to next June.
We expect comments from WDFW on how the cuts will effect the agency later today.
Gregoire also told Phil Anderson as well as other department directors to prepare for a near-$4.5 billion shortfall in the 2011-13 budget and asked them for ideas on how to fill the gap by later this month. WDFW has been looking at potentially increasing license costs and other fees to address it.
Lisa Brown, Washington’s Senate majority leader, and Frank Chopp, the speaker of the House, put out a joint statement yesterday saying “the current budget situation clearly demonstrates that state government must be rescaled to fit the new fiscal reality.”
Anderson told a gathering of sportsmen, ranchers and others in Okanogan County earlier this week that the agency was at “a critical turning point” and “predicted” the Legislature will again look at combining WDFW, DNR and DOE.
UPDATE 2:08 P.M.: Joe Stohr, WDFW’s deputy director, called me during a break between all-day meetings.
“We’re talking about it as we speak,” he says — and have been for some time. “We’ve known this was coming for some time.”
He’s “hopeful” that a hiring freeze, slow down in purchasing and savings the agency’s amassed will bridge the gap.
“The bigger challenge is the General Fund,” Stohr says.
There’s a $4.5 billion deficit over the next two-year biennium, and it could translate into another $10 million to $20 million for WDFW.