Public Lands Service Corps Act Gets Revised Score From Congressional Budget Office

On June 18th, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee amended and passed S.360, the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013.  Following the committee passing the bill, the legislation was sent to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to be “scored.”  The CBO “scorekeeping” process includes calculating the budgetary effects of the implementing the legislation and impact on the current and future budget resolutions.

This week, CBO released their cost estimate of the amended S.360, the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013. CBO has now found that, “Although S. 360 authorizes a number of new activities under the Public Lands Corps Act, the bill would not increase the amounts authorized to be appropriated under that act. Thus, CBO estimates that implementing the bill would have no impact on the federal budget over the 2014-2018 period. Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.”  In previous Congresses, CBO estimated that implementing the legislation would require net additional appropriations of $95 million over the 5 year period.  

The Public Lands Service Coalition agrees with the Congressional Budget Office cost estimate of the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013 that implementing the legislation will not bring the need for additional appropriations and will in fact help stretch the land and water management agencies operating budgets.  In fact, research conducted by the National Park Service’s Park Facility Management Division found that using Conservation Corps to complete maintenance and trail projects provided a cost savings of over 50%. 

The legislation will next be scheduled for Senate floor consideration, expected sometime this fall. We look forward to the legislation being scheduled for floor action and signed into law by the President. Similar legislation has been introduced in the House by Representative Raul Grijalva (AZ-3) and has 32 cosponsors and awaits action by House Committee on Natural Resources. Thank you to all of the Corps that reached out to their Senators on the committee in support of the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013.   

Background on the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013

The Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013 amends the Public Lands Corps Act of 1993 and expands the role of the public lands corps program. The Public Land Corps program allows the federal land and water management agencies to partner with conservation and service corps on projects that rehabilitate, restore, and enhance natural, cultural, historic, archaeological, recreational, and scenic resources on public lands across America. An expanded Public Lands Service Corps program will provide more opportunities for thousands of young Americans to gain valuable workforce and career development while assisting our nation’s land and water management agencies to address critical maintenance, restoration, repair and rehabilitation needs in a cost effective manner.

The legislation will:

• Permit NOAA to work with conservation corps on costal and marine habitats,

• Establish department level corps / youth offices at DOI, USFS, NOAA,

• Extends the noncompetitive hiring authority for corps members,

• Allow military veterans up to age 35 to participate in the public lands corps program.

The legislation will allow the public land and water management agencies to engage young adults to meet our nation’s backlogged maintenance needs, address record youth unemployment, and prepare a diverse group of youth to be the next generation of natural resource employees. An expanded Public Lands Service Corps program will provide more opportunities for thousands of young Americans to gain valuable workforce and career development while assisting our nation’s land and water management agencies to address critical maintenance, restoration, repair, and rehabilitation needs.