Puerto Rico governor defends reducing agency directors’ salaries by 12.5%
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Monday that his administration has reduced agency directors’ salaries by 12.5%, or $ 1.4 million, even though some of these officials earn more than what their counterparts did during the previous administration.
Rosselló said agency directors with higher salaries take on more responsibilities and even occupy more than one position in the government. Such is the case of Public-Private Partnership Authority Director Omar Marrero, who is also the chairman of the Ports Authority and the Convention Center District Authority.
Another official who earns more money than her predecessor is Tania Vázquez, director of the Department of Natural & Environmental Resources, who is also the chief adviser to the government on environmental issues and presides the Environmental Quality Board (JCA by its Spanish initials).
“We also have savings, those savings are certified and the reason why the vast majority of these established salaries are greater than in the past is because the vast majority of these cases have multiple roles,” Rosselló affirmed during a press conference in La Fortaleza, after he signed the Tennessee Plan into law.
Although some agency directors “have been paid more, it is because they have a greater workload.” In the end, “there is a significant reduction” in those allocations, the governor insisted. Rosselló’s goal is to “create a government that responds more to our people, a government that is smaller and more effective.”
“We are making some significant cuts on the government’s side, but they are aimed toward reducing a structure of 131 agencies to a structure of 31 to 30 agencies, that is more efficient, that isn’t redundant, to avoid having five offices doing the same work and then sending [customers] somewhere else to do it. No, let our responsibility be clear, that we can collect more revenue,” he declared.
La Fortaleza Chief of Staff William Villafañe said in a written statement that in 2016, then-Gov. Alejandro García Padilla invested $11,024,109 in his agency directors, a number that has been reduced to $9,655,065 under Rosselló’s administration.
In government appointed, or trust employees, the Governor’s Office spent $733,265, versus $595,162 in 2017, “which represents a roughly 19% savings, or $138,000 less.”
He added that, with the consolidated budget, savings are roughly $7.2 million with the reduction of positions for trust employees and the freezing of funds.
In addition to Vázquez and Marrero, the chief of staff confirmed that he and five other agency directors have “nominal increases of $22 a month.”
In addition to them are the secretary of Public Affairs & Public Policy; the Health, Surgeon & Health adviser; the director of the Economic Development & Commerce Department and the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co.; the director of the Rums Company, of the Board for the Investment in the Puerto Rican Industry, and the Roosevelt Roads Redevelopment Authority; the Treasury secretary, who is also a fiscal adviser; the transportation department secretary, who also oversees the Highways & Transportation Authority; and the Municipal Affairs commissioner and adviser on municipal issues.
Villafañe said that Rosselló’s administration reduced from six to two months what an agency director can request in severance pay, while the Legislative Assembly requested a reduction of 28%, or $28 million to be more efficient.