Senate justifies dismissal of 96 employees
SAN JUAN – The Senate’s secretary of Public Affairs, Osvaldo Soto, confirmed in writing Tuesday that the legislative body dismissed 96 employees after an “administrative reorganization” as a result of a $3.5 million budget cut and the addition of three senators due to the application of the Minorities Law.
Because this four-year term has 30 senators, instead of 27, Soto explained that this represents an additional expense for the Senate of $919,971, as each legislator costs no less than $306,657 a year.
“As a precautionary measure, the budget of the Legislative Offices was reduced by 6% and the budget of the Legislative Committees in the Senate by 10%. All inaugural expenses were reduced dramatically,” Soto said, adding that they had to adjust to the budget presented by former Senate President Eduardo Bhatia, who concluded his presidency in December.
The Senate secretary said the decision to reduce payroll “was made responsibly” and “does not represent any action against an employee because of their ideology or affiliation.”
“In 2013, Bhatia and the Popular Democratic Party selectively fired hundreds of people simply because they were from the NPP [New Progressive Party]. In that massive layoff of employees that Bhatia carried out, he fired employees who for years, administration after administration, worked in the Senate, and it wasn’t done for economic or fiscal reasons,” Soto argued.
Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz was asked about the matter earlier Tuesday and said he had no information regarding the dismissals. However, he made it clear that there could be layoffs, shift reductions and cancellation of contracts amid Puerto Rico’s fiscal situation.