Governor Announces $9.1-Billion Budget for Fiscal 2017
SAN JUAN—Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padilla has announced that the budget for the fiscal year 2017, set to start July 1, would be of $9.1 billion, about $700 million less than the budget that was approved for the current fiscal year.
During a televised speech aired late Monday, García Padilla said that the upcoming budget represents a “real reduction in expenditures of close to $3 billion when compared to the last budget of the previous administration.”
“Although the budget for fiscal 2017 would be lower than the current one, it would not reduce the budgets set aside for health services, education, public safety, agriculture and social welfare, and instead guarantees the services that [related] agencies bring,” he said.
The budget also would not decrease the revenues that the University of Puerto Rico gets by way of a formula, same with the judicial branch and the municipalities, he added.
The governor stressed that the upcoming budget depends exclusively on government revenues instead of loans, like in the past. The budget also hinges on possible steps that the U.S. Congress might take to the island’s benefit, as it tries to address an ongoing debt crisis in the commonwealth.
The local legislature has mere weeks to approve the budget. Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress has yet to settle on a possible debt restructuring mechanism for the island, despite repeated calls by local officials on the matter. The troubled commonwealth has close to $70 billion in total debt and a looming default in bond payments due this summer.