Governor enacts legislation to raise revenue for University Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló enacted Thursday two legislative bills to produce commemorative University of Puerto Rico (UPR) vehicle license plates and inspection stickers of its 11 campuses, which should generate additional revenue for the island’s public university while it faces more than $100 million in budget cuts.
Joint Senate Resolution 76, authored by Sen. Miguel Romero, requests the Transportation & Public Works Department (DTOP by its Spanish acronym) to issue commemorative UPR car registration stickers annually, for which citizens will be requested to donate $1 to $10 for the university’s general fund. Between 2020 and 2031, a commemorative sticker will be issued each year.
Also, the governor signed Senate Bill 269, which was petitioned by a group of university students, to create the UPR Financial Aid Act and request DTOP to issue one or more license plates commemorating the institution. The department will determine the cost, considering that $20 will be transferred to the UPR for every license plate made. If the license plate alludes to any campus, $5 of the $20 would be allocated to that campus.
This bill also creates the “Dona tu Cambio a la Universidad” program, which allows the UPR to reach collaborative agreements with commercial establishments so customers can donate change to the academic institution.
S.B. 269 stirred controversy in the Senate over La Fortaleza’s requested amendments to the bill. These changes, which completely changed the bill’s summary motives, resulted in independent Sen. José Vargas Vidot removing his name from the bill. It also caused uneasiness among parliamentary minorities, who criticized the government for amending a petitioned bill.
Neither bill presents an estimate of the revenue expected to benefit the UPR.
“The government and the UPR have to work to adjust themselves to our new fiscal reality. The signing of these bills is important, just like other steps such as including the UPR in the cannabis research industry, and achieve for the UPR to offer training previously provide only by the private industry to the government, and other measures,” the governor said in a written statement.
The governor said that the measures passed were promoted during a meeting he had with the presidents of student councils and student representatives before the UPR Governing Board.
Present during the bill’s signature were student representatives to the UPR Governing Board Pedro Rodríguez Mercado and Gilberto Domínguez Escalera, as well as Sen. Romero and Rep. Jorge Navarro.
“The UPR will be facing major changes and financial challenges in the coming years, and this is why collaborative measures between the government, the private sector and alumni will be key elements in reinventing our university for the benefit of the country,” Rodríguez Mercado said in a written statement.
The UPR is completing its budget for this fiscal year. It is also drafting the institution’s fiscal plan, as required by the Financial Oversight & Management Board. Both processes had been delayed because it wasn’t until last week that the UPR Governing Board had enough quorum to make decisions, following the resignations from top-ranking officials in the university board and an impasse from government. The UPR board is expected to appoint its new interim president, who would finish producing both documents.