Senate president proposes setting Puerto Rico government salary cap at $60,000
SAN JUAN – Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz filed legislation Wednesday to establish a maximum salary of $60,000 at all Puerto Rico government branches, including for agency heads, mayors and lawmakers.
Senate Bill 883, which was recently filed with the Office of Legislative Procedures and would create the Uniform Salary Act of the Government of Puerto Rico, “will take effect on January 1, 2021.”
This means that, if enacted by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, the current salaries of government officials, including those of several secretaries who make $250,000 to $450,000, would not be affected until after the next elections.
During a turn on the resolution that proposes to stop the disbursement of funds to the island’s fiscal oversight board, Rivera Schatz questioned the “act of pure hypocrisy” of several Popular Democratic (PDP) and Puerto Rican Independence (PIP) party minority lawmakers who, in his opinion, want to reduce the salary “of the whole world, except theirs.”
The New Progressive Party majority senate president referred to House Bill 1507 of PDP Reps. Luis Vega Ramos and Ramón Luis Cruz Burgos, which proposes a $73,745 annual salary for agency heads and $90,000 for the secretary of State.
“I’m going to propose that we do something better,” Rivera Schatz said. “We will propose that all salaries of the Government of Puerto Rico–in the executive branch, in the legislative branch, in the judicial branch, in corporations and municipalities–cannot exceed $60,000. Let’s see if it’s true they vote in favor of it.”
While most lawmakers earn $73,775 annually, the spokespeople and chairpeople of the Treasury and Government committees of each chamber make $84,841.
Meanwhile, the speaker of the House of Representatives and the Senate president earn $110,663 each, according to Act 97 of 1968, which dictates the salaries of legislators. The governor makes $70,000 a year.
“I’m going to present the bill, and I’m going to bring it here, and I’m going to vote in its favor, but everyone has to support it, and everyone earns $60,000 as the cap. And we are going to see if the patriots of the House [back it], who want to lower the salary of agency heads but don’t want to lower theirs,” Rivera Schatz said, adding, “That’s an act of pure political hypocrisy.”
The Senate president said his bill could be addressed in the session scheduled for Monday. Despite seeking it “apply now,” article 6 of the proposal established that it would come in effect in 2021.
Currently, the secretaries of the departments such as Justice, Health, Agriculture, Housing and Labor are more than $100,000 a year. Public Safety Secretary Héctor Pesquera, Education Secretary Julia Keleher and the executive director of Puerto Rico’s destination marketing organization, Brad Dean, are all paid more than $250,000 a year.