Puerto Rico gov adamant: We’re not going to implement furlough program
SAN JUAN – If the federal court determines that the Government of Puerto Rico must cut two public employee workdays a month, as requested by the fiscal control board in a legal filing, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló would disregard said order.
The governor insisted Wednesday that such a measure “is not necessary” because of the impact it would have on the economy and the 127,296 public employees it could apply to in the executive branch, except for members of the police force.
“I’m not going to work on more hypotheses. We are a jurisdiction of law and order. The government’s position has been the same since day one: We do not favor, we do not support, we are not going to implement the reduction of working hours because it is not a necessary measure right now for Puerto Rico and because it has a non-transformative impact,” the governor said when asked if he would abide by a court decision along those lines.
The fiscal control board filed a lawsuit Aug. 28 before federal Judge Laura Taylor Swain, who is in charge of the renegotiation of Puerto Rico’s debt under Title III of Promesa, for the furlough program and a 10% cut to public pensions to be declared “mandatory” parts of the fiscal plan, not recommendations as the government claims. The intention is for the furlough to come into effect starting Sept. 1
The federal court has yet to comment on the matter.
Although on Monday he was confident of prevailing against the board in the legal dispute, the governor said Wednesday that the government has not responded to the legal action. “It is an issue the lawyers are working on at this time,” he assured.
Although at loggerheads with the board on this issue, Rosselló was emphatic that “our administration does not have a fight” with the entity created by the Promesa federal law.
In fact, members of the oversight board and government officials are currently in New York “working on a mediation process” with creditors, the governor said during a press conference in Dorado, where he announced the expansion of Boston Scientific and the inauguration of a health research Center of Innovation.
Rosselló also assured that government’s attorneys are evaluating the recommendation made by the fiscal control board on the need to provide independence to the boards of government entities and public corporations, given that Act 3 of 2017 allows the governor to remove any of its members.
“As with all recommendations, we will evaluate it. The law provides that we have a 90-day period to do so. We would like to do it before that,” the governor said. “We welcome all the board’s recommendations with pleasure.”