New York Gov. Cuomo calls US treatment of Puerto Rico unfortunate
SAN JUAN – Accompanied by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and that state’s congressional delegation, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló reiterated Monday his call for fair treatment of the island in the final version of the federal tax reform, as well as for reconstruction funds after hurricanes Irma and María.
Cuomo, meanwhile, criticized the U.S. government response to the natural disaster and endorsed Rosselló’s requests.
“[Puerto Rico] may not have a congressional delegation with votes of your own. But you do have a congressional delegation. It’s called the congressional delegation of the state of New York,” said the Democratic governor, who characterized as “unfortunate” the way in which the island “has been treated by this nation.”
Earlier Monday, Rosselló, who traveled to New York on Sunday evening, meting with Cuomo and Congress members from New York, including Democrats of Puerto Rican descent Sen. José Serrano and Rep. Nydia Velázquez.
During their press conference, the governor warned again about the disastrous effects the federal tax reform would have on the economy of Puerto Rico if any of the proposals under evaluation are approved. Delegations from the House and the Senate are currently discussing the measure in conference committee, where they seek to reach consensus on a version that has the endorsement of both chambers.
The language that has achieved approval so far would put at risk the industrial base of the island by increasing the tax burden of controlled foreign corporations (CFCs), or those with stateside parent companies that do business on the island. According to the government, these represent half of the gross national product of Puerto Rico, almost a third of its tax revenue and about 250,000 direct and indirect jobs.
“The tax bill is devastating for Puerto Rico, both the Senate and the House versions,” said Cuomo, who also called an approval of a measure that would destroy the economy of the island “beyond imagination.”
A day after meeting with New Progressive Party legislators, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González and administration officials, and assuring they would pursue a unified lobbying strategy in Washington, D.C., Rosselló asked for the complete elimination of taxes on CFCs currently in Puerto Rico.
The governor also requested fair and equal treatment for the island by Congress in the allocation of federal funds for reconstruction after Irma and María. The Rosselló administration estimated it would need some $94.4 billion to address the damage caused by both hurricanes and rebuild the public infrastructure.
“If they don’t get that assistance, [Puerto Rico] can’t rebuild. It’s as simple as that,” Cuomo said.
The Rosselló administration expects Congress to respond to Puerto Rico’s request for recovery funds within the next two months.
Rosselló also took the opportunity to express solidarity with New York City after an explosion was set off reportedly by a Bangladeshi man with a homemade bomb in a subway station in Manhattan. The governor, who earlier said he heard the detonation because he was close to where the incident was reported, congratulated the government’s quick response and the return to normality by city residents.
After his visit to the Big Apple, the governor will head to the federal capital, where he will continue lobbying efforts in favor of his administration’s tax reform proposal for Puerto Rico. Rosselló is expected to return to the island on Thursday.