Senate president to hear mayors out regarding Puerto Rico gov’t bank restructuring
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz pledged Monday to listen to the concerns of both political parties’ mayors during a meeting at the end of the week on Senate Bill 604, which restructures the Government Development Bank (GDB) to meet its restructuring support agreement (RSA) with creditors.
The concerns of mayors, such as San Juan’s Carmen Yulín Cruz, have to do with whether the bill would reduce municipal deposits, which remain frozen in the GDB, and if it could eliminate their ability to take the matter to court.
“I distributed the bill [S.B 604] among the mayors and asked them to examine it. We can meet again this week to discuss that particular bill, with pleasure,” Rivera Schatz said in a press conference after concluding a meeting with several municipal executives of both the mayors’ Federation Association on a municipal summit in August.
With respect to Mayor Cruz’s concern, the Senate leader was emphatic in that “every act of government is reviewed in court.”
No public hearings during special session
The Senate president confirmed that, although he will listen to the mayors’ proposals, he will not hold public hearings on any of the five bills or the nine appointments to be evaluated in the first extraordinary session of this administration.
“We expect to address this quickly,” the senator told Caribbean Business. “There will be no public hearings.”
In fact, on the first day of the special session the Senate did not approve any bill and only five of 30 senators were absent: Larry Seilhamer and Abel Nazario, who arrived Monday from their travels; Itzamar Peña, who was attending a family situation; Rossana López, who had a medical appointment; and Eric Correa, who was also excused.
When starting the session, Rivera Schatz said he expects the seven appointments to the Democracy Commission and the two new appointments to the University of Puerto Rico’s (UPR) Board of Trustess will be addressed during the session Wednesday at 1 p.m.
If the legislative process for the bill amending Act 30 of 2017, which creates the Democracy Commission, were ready, it would also be dealt with Wednesday, he said.
Subsequently, House Bill 1142, which raises license fees for coin-operated amusement machines to complete the revenue required by the government to validate the budget and certified fiscal plan, and House Bill 1122, which amends the law that creates the Science, Technology and Research Trust (PRST).
Regarding H.B. 1142, Rivera Schatz said it will be approved as sent by the executive branch, since they want to prevent the funds it is expected to generate, about $69 million, to be the reason for which the fiscal control board decides to cut a workday a week for public employees.
The last two measures to be considered would be reforms to the retirement systems (H.B. 603) and the restructuring of the GDB (S.B. 604) for the extension of the bills and the complexity they pose.
“We will take the time it takes to address them responsibly,” he added.