Talk about a catch and release.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that the state will refund anglers who paid for saltwater fishing licenses in 2010 and 2011 before the fee was repealed. He made the announcement at the Freeport Boatmen’s Association.
“Think of the last time government turned around and said I’m gonna send you, the taxpayer, a check. I’m gonna refund to the taxpayer money from the government bank account. It doesn’t happen,” Cuomo said.
The about 9,000 refunds issued by the state have already totaled to $1,350,000 and there will be $300,000 in refunds issued for 2011. The state will refund to 200 charter boats costing $80,000 and to 23,000 individuals for a total cost of $220,000.
“This state is going to make money because of what we are doing. Sometimes reducing taxes, reducing fees, stimulates the economy and creates more revenue,” Cuomo said.
Although saltwater anglers over age 16 are still required to apply for a license, there is no cost involved.
“It was an unneeded tax that hurt local businesses and it put an added unnecessary fiscal burden on New York fisherman,” said Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley).
Some anglers and fishing boat captains came to hear the news for themselves.
“Here on Long Island fishing isn’t just a business or a hobby,” said Tony DiLernia, the governor’s nominee to serve on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. “For many of us it is a way of life. A local economy depends on the tourism and businesses that Long Island’s fishing industry brings in.”
Cuomo said he too will drop a line in the water this weekend off and post a “Gone Fishing” sign on his office door.
“There’s a striper with my name on it out there and I’m going to get it,” he said.