García Padilla reiterates he won’t deliver fiscal plan with oversight board required changes
SAN JUAN – The convening of a last special legislative session before the end of the year, as well as not delivering Promesa’s fiscal board a new fiscal plan drafted by the outgoing administration seems set in stone.
Gov. Alejandro García Padilla also said that he is communicating with legislators to analyze bills that weren’t approved in the recently concluded special session, but will be in a last special session to be convened, when pending appointments will also be addressed.
García Padilla appealed to legislators’ patriotism to fulfill their duty until the last day of the current administration.
“I am sure the patriotism and commitment of those legislators who were unable to participate in the first extraordinary session–that patriotism will come forth, that commitment to country–and will participate in the second one, as is their duty and have to do,” replied the governor to questions from the press during an event Tuesday in San Juan.
Meanwhile, to questions from Caribbean Business about the delivery of a new draft of the fiscal plan to the fiscal oversight board Dec. 15, the governor said he still maintains his position of not making changes suggested by the board to the document presented by his administration.
“I have presented the board with scenarios to demonstrate what is incorrect about the issues raised. I’m not going to favor a fiscal plan that includes a budget reduction of more than $3 billion. If I were to think about it politically, that hurts…the people of Puerto Rico and [governor-elect] Ricardo Rosselló,” García Padilla said.
The oversight board required the Puerto Rican government to eliminate from its fiscal projections funds from the extension of the 4% tax on foreign corporations under Act 154, as well as the projecting a similar allocation of federal healthcare funds for the island as under Obamacare, both resulting in a fiscal impact of more than $3 billion annually.
“For the next budget, [Rosselló] would have to reduce $3 billion. That would mean he would be forced to lay people off, shut agencies down and be forced to reduce services. If I thought about it politically, I’d do that. But to not harm him, which I don’t want to do, I won’t do a bad thing to the country, which I also don’t want to do,” García Padilla added.
The governor believes Promesa’s fiscal control board is acquiring knowledge about the island’s fiscal situation, and his administration will continue to review Puerto Rico’s financial data “so the absurd doesn’t prevail.”
As for the absences of his party’s legislators from the first special session, the outgoing governor said he wasn’t judging the reasons why they couldn’t participate, “but this will be the last opportunity and I’m sure they will attend.”
Even though only some of the measures and appointments submitted by La Fortaleza were approved by the Legislative Assembly during the recently concluded special session, García Padilla rejected allegations that it wasn’t productive.
“One-hundred percent of the measures are never approved,” he said, adding he would “very likely” propose amendments to the Civil Code again.
“I think the criticism has been so superficial. It’s the first time I hear that a process that has taken 18 years was called in haste. I think it’s the most studied legislative measure in the history of Puerto Rico,” the outgoing governor answered.