Puerto Rico Senate approves $5M for status referendum
SAN JUAN – With 21 votes in favor and eight against, including opposition from independent Sen. José Vargas Vidot, the Senate approved Senate Resolution 92 to reassign $5.3 million to the State Elections Commission (CEE by its Spanish acronym) to cover some of the expenses for the June 11 political-status plebiscite.
When confronted by the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) delegation, who deemed that allocation unnecessary, New Progressive Party (NPP) Carmelo Ríos argued it isn’t a new allocation, but a surplus assigned for electoral events.
“We aren’t taking money from special education like our colleagues from the former administration did to transfer it elsewhere. There lies the difference… Democracy is priceless. This is an example of those who want, and those who conform,” stressed the senator.
The funds were identified by the Office of Management & Budget (OMB), and originate from the Joint Resolution 60-2016 approved during the administration of former Gov. Alejandro García Padilla. The measure established a $40 million allocation to the CEE for the general election last November.
With votes in favor from the NPP delegation and Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Sen. Juan Dalmau, the CEE will receive the sum no later than 75 days before the plebiscite proposed by Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz.
On March 10, the CEE issued a certification confirming availability of the surplus. After the status referendum, in which the options are statehood and free association/independence, the commission must file a report to the OMB detailing the incurred expenses.