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Young's Sealaska bill would cost US $2M over a decade

Cost, though small, would trigger pay-as-you-go law

Posted: November 3, 2011 - 12:09am

Estimates by the Congressional Budget Office show Rep. Don Young’s Sealaska land bill will cost the U.S. government $2 million in timber receipts over a decade.

The office found passage of the Southeast Alaska Land Entitlement Finalization and Jobs Protection Act would affect direct spending. Therefore pay-as-you-go procedures apply, even though $200,000 — or one-tenth of the bill’s projected 10-year cost — is a miniscule fraction of one percent of the $1.5 trillion 2011 budget deficit projected by the CBO.

According to the Office of Management and Budget the Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 “requires that all new legislation changing taxes, fees, or mandatory expenditures, taken together, must not increase projected (federal) deficits.” Legislation that does not meet this requirement could trigger automatic across-the-board cuts in selected mandatory programs.

The congressman doesn’t see the budget office estimate as a major hurdle to passing his bill, spokesman Luke Miller said.

“It is important to keep in mind that the main reason the legislation scored the way it did, is because as a simple accounting matter, it is a cost for the federal government to give back portions of land that the United States originally took from Southeast Alaska’s Native people,” Miller said. “The CBO provides an accounting of money, that’s it, it does not take anything more into account. Congressman Young is only asking for what is owed to Alaska’s Native people and a Congressional Budget Office score does not tell you that.”

Young’s bill would authorize Sealaska to select the rest of its land entitlement from federal lands outside the area originally delineated for that purpose by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. 

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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