House Speaker: Fiscal Board intervention in Legislature ‘unnecessary’
SAN JUAN – House Speaker Carlos “Johnny” Méndez assured Monday that the Fiscal Oversight & Management Board doesn’t have inherence over the House of Representatives.
Méndez emphasized that the Legislature has taken the necessary steps to reduce public expenses, so board intervention would be unnecessary. Regardless, he explained, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management & Economic Stability Act (Promesa), which created the fiscal entity, establishes it may only have power over the executive branch. “The law specifies which are the executive’s agencies and public corporations,” he said.
“Obviously, we will publicize all cuts and savings we have had until now. So in that sense, we will keep effective control of the House’s finances. We spent much less than the past administration in inaugurations and oath activities,” stated Méndez.
When asked if the Board may have a say in the Legislature’s finances, the House speaker argued that the legislative branch represents less than 0.1% of the government’s general budget.
Although Méndez affirmed that both the House and Senate have taken steps to avoid interference from the fiscal board on legislations, he didn’t consider House Bill 675, known as the Financial Emergency Act, which gives Gov. Ricardo Rosselló power over the Legislature to manage Puerto Rico’s finances.
Under that bill, the governor would be able to sell public property and pay for essential services as he sees fit, while holding the right to prioritize debt repayment to creditors over those services, among others.