Fortaleza asks UPR to take grievances to fiscal board
SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló respects university autonomy and therefore recommended the University of Puerto Rico’s administration to take its complaints directly to the fiscal control board in case it insists on not presenting the institution’s fiscal plan, Public Affairs Secretary Ramón Rosario said.
UPR interim president, Nivia Fernández, announced she would ask the UPR board not to submit a fiscal plan on March 31, as the fiscal entity ordered a few months ago, due to the university’s inability to cut the requested $450 million by 2021. The university has only identified some $197 million in possible cuts.
“The UPR, respecting its university autonomy, will take whatever grievances it has to the [fiscal] board. I heard the UPR president asked for a meeting with the [fiscal] board’s chairman [José Carrión III] asking for an extension of [the UPR fiscal plan’s delivery date],” Rosario said in a press conference in which he expressed satisfaction with the board’s certification of the central government’s fiscal plan.
Both Rosario and Secretary-General William Villafañe said the executive branch has its doors open “to support and contribute” to the UPR’s plan. However, they didn’t say if they would confront the board to avoid a $450 million in cuts to the UPR—even though the initially requested cut was of $300 million—the majority of which come from the Puerto Rico general fund. The government was asked to reduce its university subsidies, and everything points to the government following the fiscal board’s orders.
“The best thing we can recommend to the UPR is to sit down in good faith with the board… It has become clear that the board is willing to listen,” Villafañe said.
The public affairs secretary added that the government was already collaborating with the school’s administration with the executive order that the UPR will be the preferential government-contract provider, which is expected to result in $50 million to $100 million for the public university system.
Fernández has argued that a $450 million cut would put Puerto Rico’s higher education in jeopardy and insists on not presenting a plan with that number. The majority of the cuts would come from a reduced budget, while the rest will be implemented through school tuition adjustments.
The UPR is not the only public entity that was required to deliver a fiscal plan independently from the one submitted by the central government. The Government Development Bank, the Cooperatives Supervision & Insurance Corp. (Cossec by its Spanish acronym), the Highway & Transportation Authority, the Electric Power Authority and the Aqueduct & Sewer Authority have each presented fiscal plans, which have not been published.