Puerto Rico Legislature proposes $5 million for pro-statehood commission
SAN JUAN – The chairman of the Puerto Rico House Federal, International and Status Relations Committee, Rep. José Aponte, announced Tuesday the filing of a resolution aimed toward allocating $5 million to finance expenses of the pro-statehood admission Puerto Rico Equality Commission throughout the fiscal year, which ends June 30.
The New Progressive Party legislator emphasized that the island’s recovery from hurricanes Irma and María depend almost entirely on allocating more federal funds and that the commission plays a key role in achieving that financial aid.
“The execution of the delegated public policy necessarily involves operational and functioning expenses. Precisely, the referenced solution’s end is to allocate the amount of $5 million, charged to the General State Trust Fund, to cover the operational expenses this fiscal year. Said amount is not only adequate and prudent, but is also in tune with the needs to channel the most basic democratic demands of the people of Puerto Rico,” Aponte said, although he acknowledged that commission members perform their duties without compensation.
He explained that Act 30-2017, known as the Equality and Congressional Representation of the American Citizens of Puerto Rico Act, created the Puerto Rico Equality Commission, which represents the first Puerto Rican delegation in the U.S. Congress, comprising two senators and five federal representatives.
The commission’s primary role is to promote and ensure compliance with what it considers a duly expressed electoral mandate in favor of statehood.
Aponte said it is imperative that Puerto Rico be admitted as a state and that the statehood political status option won in the plebiscites held on Nov. 6, 2012 and June 11, 2017.
He added that Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s win in the Nov. 8, 2016, elections suggest that the majority of the electorate agreed with his pro-statehood platform. “The electorate’s mandate in favor of statehood is more pertinent and urgent than ever,” he said. Rosselló won the election with 41.98% of the votes.
“Given the urgent need to address the fundamental problem of Puerto Rico and bring about the recovery after the ravages of two historic hurricanes and promote true economic development on the island, where there is work and sustainable economic activity, and under the full awareness of the claims of about 3.4 million American citizens who demand attention and immediate recognition of their democratic aspirations, this Legislature deems it necessary to allocate the funds here provided. Time is running out,” he concluded.