Governor sends draft 2019 budget to Puerto Rico fiscal board
SAN JUAN – On Friday, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló sent Puerto Rico’s fiscal oversight board a recommended $8.79 billion government budget for fiscal year 2019. The current budget is of $9.5 billion.
At the end of April, the fiscal panel had indicated that the general budget for 2019 should not exceed $8.5 billion given it was the sum of estimated income to the General Fund. The information was contained in a letter sent to the governor, which also established May 4 as the deadline for the government to present its budget proposal and supporting documents.
“The budget we sent today does not increase the board’s budget, as requested, because we believe it is not justified,” the governor said in the announcing press release.
The fiscal board had requested its operating budget, which is paid by the commonwealth government, for fiscal 2019 increased from $60 million to $80 million.
The release emphasized that the draft budget includes $2.22 billion for the payment of pensions, which was previously paid from the retirement systems’ fund. In addition, a $130 million reserve is proposed to maintain sufficient liquidity to not interrupt government services and payments to suppliers. Also $100 million would be used to start a transition to regionalize services offered by the central government.
Rosselló said the budget to run the Citizen’s Advocate Office, the Legislative Assembly, the Office of Government Ethics and the Comptroller’s Office were not cut.
The document incorporates the impact of federal disaster funds recently granted to Puerto Rico for its reconstruction and recovery and matching state funds, as well as other federal funds to finance the Mi Salud healthcare program.
The executive director of the island’s Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority, Gerardo Portela, said the government’s proposed budget does not address fiscal board-requested measures such as reducing pensions, eliminating the Christmas Bonus part of salaries and its proposed labor reform. Savings, the governor’s office said, were achieved by making adjustments in other areas.