Measures to raise funds for UPR presented
SAN JUAN — At a time when eight of the 11 University of Puerto Rico (UPR) campuses have suspended academic activities in rejection of proposed austerity measures, Rep. Ramón Luis Cruz Burgos, Popular Democratic Party (PDP) alternate spokesman, presented a package of legislative measures to raise funds for the island’s largest university system.
Among the measures are four House concurrent resolutions (18, 19, 20 and 21) to reaffirm university autonomy, oppose a $300 million UPR cut—as proposed by the fiscal control board— reject the elimination or closure of campuses, and renounce the possibility of layoffs in the university.
Regarding the proposals to raise funds, the first one (H.B. 653) is to produce a commemorative license plate of each of the 11 UPR campuses, from which a portion of their price—possibly $20—would go to the university. Cruz, who studied at the UPR’s Humacao campus, told Caribbean Business that many people have shown interest in the UPR license plates, but declined to give revenue estimates “to not set expectations.”
The second bill (H.B. 802) seeks to amend the UPR Prepaid Education Program law to sell university credits with a 10% discount, as long as sold 12 months before enrollment.
The third bill (H.B. 803) creates and establishes the “Donate Your Change to the Alma Mater” program, which aims for participating businesses to give customers the option to donate their change to the educational institution.
Other measures establish that the UPR will be the government’s main source for contracts (H.B. 804), and create the Puerto Rico Campus Program, which seeks to promote internationally the school’s 11 campuses as a post-secondary studies destination (H.B. 816).
The last measure (H.B. 805) aims to amend Act 3 of 2017—or the Act to Address the Economic, Fiscal and Budgetary Crisis and Ensure the Functioning of the Government of Puerto Rico—to ensure university autonomy. This law, presented by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, froze the UPR’s budget formula and extended the validation of Act 66 of Fiscal Sustainability, which freezes both employee benefits and the financial aspect of collective-bargaining agreement negotiations.
“The bills intend to allocate funds to the university, prevent cuts, and do so in a creative way, without resorting to tax measures. We have to be creative. I encourage my colleagues to develop additional measures, as I am doing. The UPR is a system we must protect and care for, and we must guarantee that it remains operational,” the PDP representative said.