Doing more with less at the nation's refuges

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Washington, DC, September 29, 2016 | comments

Most Arizonan’s would likely agree that our national wildlife refuges are important and necessary. Preserving native wildlife is a tradition older than the state of Arizona itself. However, most Arizonans would also agree that the Department of Veterans Affairs is important too. Same thing for Border Patrol, Medicare and our military. All of these government services require tax dollars to maintain. And your tax money is limited, as should be your federal government. 

The reality is that out-of-control federal spending, resulting in our $19 trillion deficit, has required our elected leaders to reevaluate how we allocate federal tax dollars. The American people, through the power of the ballot box, have given the federal government a clear directive: do more with less. Just like every hard working family. If working families have to make tough financial decisions and tighten their belts, the federal government must as well.

This mandate applies to every single federal agency, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees the management of our national wildlife refuge system. Recently Havasu News highlighted a report claiming that the number of wildlife refuge bureaucrats has declined by 15 percent nationwide over the past ten years. The advocates who published this report demand more taxes and more spending to hire more bureaucrats—at the same time American families are increasingly taxed, wage growth is stagnant and the overall economy has been a disaster for the past eight years.

This big government spending reflex is how we got into our current fiscal crisis in the first place. Instead, agencies like the Fish and Wildlife Service have a responsibility to build proactive solutions that make the agency more efficient and effective. What incentive do government agencies have to work smarter if Congress blindly increases their funding? Private businesses and American families find ways to be more efficient. The government must do the same.

Additionally, a closer examination of the study claiming our nation’s wildlife refuges are “understaffed” reveals that this survey was conducted by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

This self-proclaimed public employee advocacy group has a clear bias towards increasing the number of public employees and growing their ranks.

Furthermore, PEER made no effort to prove that more employees were actually necessary.

No data exists establishing a work shortage. Merely saying the numbers could be higher, or in the past were higher, is not proof that more employees are needed.

I was specifically elected to Congress to reign in the size and scope of the federal government as well as bring accountability to those who serve WE THE PEOPLE. Tough decisions have to be made and the top priority for the American people should not be to grow and expand an unsustainable federal government.

As the people of Lake Havasu know all too well, we have some refuge employees that have enough time on their hands to concoct illegal ways to shut down the lake and kill tourism. The first question we must ask is this: Are the current refuge staff doing their jobs efficiently and giving the American taxpayer their money’s worth?

Congressman Paul Gosar represents Arizona’s 4th congressional district.

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