Of course the Republicans would tell you they’re just saving the land conservation program by cutting funding and selling land to the private sector. They’re saving it like Paul Ryan wants to save Medicare.
Sportsmen in and out of state will find few places to go and enjoy the great outdoors. And we're only talking about this two year budget, just wait till the next one, if they’re not run out of town by then. Overreach? Are you kidding?
jsonline-Lee Bergquist: The Legislature's budget committee made major cuts to the state stewardship fund, $18 million over the next two fiscal years, and changes to Wisconsin's land conservation program Wednesday after Republicans on the panel expressed worries about its long-term cost ... voted 12-4 on a party-line vote to cut bonding for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.
And in a move that especially angered Democrats, Republicans called for the Department of Natural Resources ... to put 10,000 acres of state land up for sale by June 30, 2017. (In addition) selling at least 250 acres a year that could be used for farming through 2020. The Republicans preached fiscal responsibility during deliberations, while Democrats said stewardship funding was a keystone program that ensures the public has access to land for everything from bird watching and hiking to hunting and snowmobiling.
"What we want to do is make sure the stewardship program is sustainable," said Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills.) But Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine) disputed that. "You are really gutting the stewardship program as we know it," he said.
The Legislature had authorized the DNR to spend $60 million a year for the program. On Wednesday the panel pared it 21% to $47.5 million in 2013-'14 and by 9% to $54.5 million in 2014-'15. "We have to ask, when is enough enough?" said Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), co-chair of the panel. "It seems my friends on the other side of the aisle would say never is enough enough."
Republicans said they were saving the program - an idea rejected by Democrats. "Even George Orwell couldn't say you're saving the program," said Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee.) "How could you say that?"
The program has helped pay for everything from developing bicycle trails and electrifying campsites to blockbuster deals such as the $35.1 million Wild Rivers Legacy Forest involving more than 64,000 acres in Florence, Forest and Marinette counties in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Kenosha) described the funding cuts as a "shameful attack on people who hunt and fish in the state." Democrats also complained that the cut from $86 million to $60 million came with a promise from Republicans that funding would be restored.
And you know how “promises” are never kept by Republicans:
"We have new leaders elected every two years," Nygren countered. "To say a deal that was made two years ago is a deal that will stand forever is ridiculous."Of course it is.