Governor pocket vetoes Puerto Rico Labor reorganization bill
SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced that he pocket-vetoed the reorganization bill for the Department of Labor and Human Resources, but enacted the reorganization of the Puerto Rico Board of Education “to expedite the process of establishing educational courses and programs on the Island.”
Regarding the labor bill, he said Tuesday that another department reorganization bill will be introduced “in the next session,” because “several changes” made to the bill “prevent us from achieving the savings needed with the consolidation and we believe they limit the executive powers to effectively implement the reorganization.”
The governor said that, “as always, we will work with the Legislative Assembly to reach the consensus that will allow us to address these consolidated agencies under” the labor department.
The legislation he did sign creates the Postsecondary Institutions Board, ascribed to the State Department, and composed of five members, resulting in the elimination of the independent, seven-member Board of Education.
“With this new reorganization, we will be able to have a more efficient process to foster accreditation by private entities with recognized track records. This allows for a government structure that is in line with our fiscal reality,” Rosselló said.
With this measure, the accreditation “process is outsourced and the intervention of the State is eliminated in a job that is not a Government role and costs millions of dollars to the Treasury,” reads a release issued by his office, La Fortaleza, adding that the savings expected from the department changes for the first year are of more than $5 million and around $40 million within five years.
“With this measure, Puerto Rico adopts the model followed by 47 states that do not require licensing processes for private institutions” because these are accredited by non-governmental organizations, Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín said in the release.
The measure provides that postsecondary institutions, which include universities and certificate programs, have to register with the Postsecondary Institutions Board to operate.
Primary and secondary education institutions, or kindergarten to 12th grade, do not have the licensing requirement, but must also register with the State Department and certify they meet requirements related to facilities, permits and faculty.
Church-affiliated schools, known as “iglesias escuela,” continue to fall under Act 33 of 2017, “so as not to interfere with the constitutional right of religious freedom,” La Fortaleza said.
“Controls and requirements are established for Accelerated Education programs to comply with the commitment made in the Plan for Puerto Rico to enact legislation to regulate accelerated education in order to avoid the proliferation of schools that lack academic seriousness,” the release further reads.
“We have completed the legislative process related to seven reorganizations, which impact more than 30 government agencies. In the seven reorganizations approved by the Legislature, savings of over $30 million in the first year and close to $250 million in five years are estimated,” Rosselló said.