Monday, June 14, 2021

Puerto Rico Fiscal Board Submits $10.1 Billion General Fund Budget to Legislature

By on May 11, 2021

Panel Highlights Investments in Health Care, Social Programs, Economic Development and Gov’s Priorities 

SAN JUAN — The Financial Oversight and Management Board approved its proposed Puerto Rico General Fund budget for fiscal year 2022 and submitted it to the Legislature for its consideration. 

The proposed $10.1 billion budget for government operations increased slightly from the previous year’s budget. It allocates 72% of funding to education, public safety, health, economic development and pension payments. 

The budget includes $273 million in funding requested by Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, the board said in a press release. It allocates $454 million for social programs, including $167 million in family and children support programs, $70 million in scholarship funds for students and medical residents, and $11 million to fight gender violence. The budget includes $15 million to hire additional school nurses and $10 million to fund the treatment of opioid addiction. The budget also includes $450 million rolled over from FY2021 to improve broadband infrastructure in rural areas, the fiscal panel explained. 

“Governor Pierluisi and the Oversight Board worked together to establish a fiscally responsible budget for Puerto Rico with significant funding for social programs such as fighting child poverty and gender violence, social work, public safety, education, and healthcare while maintaining the fiscal balance required under law,” said board Executive Director Natalie Jaresko. “Fiscal responsibility is not austerity. Fiscal responsibility is prioritizing taxpayer money and using it efficiently and responsibly to maximize the services and programs the people of Puerto Rico need and deserve. The FY2022 budget focuses on these priorities and ensures their funding.” 

The budget also includes $12 million for the civil service reform pilot “to ensure the Puerto Rico Government can provide quality services to Puerto Rico’s residents for years to come,” the release reads. “The pilot is part of the Certified Fiscal Plan, aiming to align the Government’s workforce capabilities and organizational structures; enable the Government to better recruit and retain the right talent; augment employee development through standardized training; optimize human resources technology, compensation structures and policies; and redesign performance management and succession planning to promote employee development.” 

The board said the budget “fully funds the public employees’ pension through the Paygo system that replaced the insolvent pension trust. The budget also includes Medicaid funds for which the U.S. Congress has not yet extended incremental funding to ensure the continuation of much needed healthcare programs.” 

The budget also includes “necessary measures required under the Certified Fiscal Plan to improve fiscal sustainability as mandated under PROMESA [Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, which created the board], make Puerto Rico’s government more efficient, and reflect Puerto Rico’s declining population,” the release reads.

The budget does not include special revenue funds, which comprise revenue the government generates from fees and services dedicated to particular uses, or federal funds, the board explained, adding that it will be working with the Legislature through June 18, when the Legislature submits its proposed budget to the panel for consideration.

The board said it will certify the completed budget by June 30. 

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