Puerto Rico gov’t to appeal order to present budget submitted to fiscal board
SAN JUAN – The Secretary of Public Affairs and Public Policy, Ramón Rosario, announced Friday that the Government of Puerto Rico will appeal San Juan Court Judge Lauracelis Roques’s order that the governor’s attorney deliver in a sealed envelope a copy of the proposed budget sent April 30 to the fiscal control board.
“Obviously, we disagree with the decision,” Rosario said at a press conference in La Fortaleza, accompanied by the legislative presidents. “We will go to the appellate courts for that decision to be reviewed,” he added.
The Public Affairs secretary said that “all governments have many drafts” of working documents that are usually kept confidential until the official draft or the formal decision is presented.
“That has never been public because it is not a budget. It is a draft, a working document that has been kept confidential throughout the history of Puerto Rico. Promesa [federal law that established the fiscal control board] has not changed that. This is how the process goes. There was a draft that was worked on with the board, which were different initiatives, and the budget was the one the governor submitted,” the official said.
The legislature’s presidents staunchly defended the confidentiality of these “drafts” or working documents, alleging that the determination was politically motivated.
“The judge [Roques Arroyo] is politically motivated. The judge of the vandals has an affinity for the PDP [Popular Democratic Party] and has animosity toward the NPP [New Progressive Party]. That is evident in her decisions,” Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz said.
House Speaker Carlos Méndez agreed with Rivera Schatz and insisted that what was delivered to the fiscal control board was a “working document” that does not require public disclosure.
“What is the purpose of the draft if the budget has already been submitted?” asked Rivera Schatz, who did not directly answer whether he had seen the “working document” that was sent to the board.
The decision of Judge Roques came after the PDP Senate Leader Eduardo Bhatia filed a legal recourse for the release of the document that was given to the board created by Promesa. The intention of the togada is to evaluate the document to know if proceeds the claim of Bhatia.
After handing the budget over to the board in late April, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló presented the document to the Legislature nearly a month later. When it was approved by the legislative bodies, the budget went back to the board, which requested more changes, and on June 30, the last day of the fiscal year, certified it with certain changes, although for the first time since the the Constitution of Puerto Rico was established, it was put in effect without requiring the governor’s signature.