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Lawmakers: Would commissions merger really save $5M?

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A study that says Pennsylvania could save about $5 million a year by merging its fish and game commissions is generating divided opinions on a legislative panel.

Officials with the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee reviewed their conclusions today with members of the House Game and Fisheries Committee.

The study found that a merger of the commissions is feasible and would save millions through elimination of redundant upper-level positions and duplication of services.

The nonpartisan research organization's senior counsel, Patricia Berger, said the Fish and Boat Commission and the Game Commission could cut 52 jobs by consolidating.

Pennsylvania is the only state where management and oversight of fishing, boating and wildlife activities are managed by two separate, independent agencies. That prompted Rep. Martin Causer, R-McKean County, to introduce the resolution calling on the committee to study the financial feasibility, impact, costs and potential savings of a merger.

Rep. David Maloney, R-Bucks County, said he opposes any merger on grounds that sportsmen have not been adequately consulted.

Chairman of the House committee, Causer said he favors a merger but he's stopping short of predicting legislative action this year.

A similar study was conducted 10 years ago that showed that merging the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission was feasible and would save money. No legislative action resulted from the study's findings.

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