Gov. Bill Walker proposed cutting about 45 positions and $3.5 million from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s fiscal year 2018 budget in December. That’s significantly smaller than the $11.5 million in cuts over the past two years. But Southeast lawmakers say the department can’t sustain any additional reductions.
Lawmakers are back in Juneau to tackle the state’s $3.5 billion budget gap and with it, Fish and Game’s state allocations for the fiscal year. The department has taken significant cuts, about 36 percent to its dedicated state funding, over the past two years. The Commercial Fisheries Division is the most dependent on state funding, but wouldn’t change any Southeast operations if Walker’s proposal makes it through the budgeting process as is.
Several Southeast lawmakers say that’s their plan for the session. House District 36 Rep. Dan Ortiz, who sits on the House Finance and Fish and Game Finance Subcommittees, said the department’s ability to do its job will diminish with any further cuts. He wants to keep funding flat.