While Puerto Rico Senate majority leader calls gov’s change of venue for budget address symbolic, minority lawmakers won’t attend
Message to be delivered Sunday in Ponce convention center, rather than San Juan Capitol
SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico Senate Majority Leader Carmelo Ríos defended Tuesday Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s decision to break with tradition and deliver his annual budget speech Sunday from Ponce, instead of the Capitol.
“From a political point of view, the governor will be giving an address to the people regarding the path the government is taking,” Ríos said in an interview with Radio Isla. “For me, it’s a powerful message that not everything is in San Juan, that there are also other places in which we can move, and that also conveys that it’s a symbolic message, that this is a government that adjusts.”
Ríos said the speech people are expecting to hear is along the lines of, “This money is going to arrive. How are you going to use it? What’s the plan? What can I expect this year from the government, from the legislature, from the governor? All of those issues will be combined in the address.”
He said the address will include some political topics, “but with numbers.”
“The address also serves to speak to the people about our government’s priorities, such as in health; this needs to be addressed, these are the numbers,” he said. “In education issues, these are the expenses we have to address.”
The New Progressive Party lawmaker said the message is meant for the people.
“The address has to be accompanied with numbers, the address has to be accompanied with real projections. The governor has the obligation to say, look, in healthcare we have these needs and we have this plan that costs so much, and here is the item; in education, we have so many schools, and this is our priority and it costs this much,” Ríos said.
Meanwhile, former Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá also spoke about the governor’s upcoming speech in his show, “ Sobre La Mesa,” which airs on Radio Isla.
The former governor said the salary increases Puerto Rico’s Financial Oversight and Management Board is proposing for teachers and police is the same the governor is proposing. He said there was no difference between them regarding the proposed public employee pension cuts either because the ones required by the board will not be reflected until the fiscal year 2021 budget.
He further stressed that the board is proposing a higher budget than the current one of $8.7 billion, sending a $9.05 billion budget to the legislature last week.
“This Sunday, what will take place is a symbolic budget address, definitely,” Acevedo Vilá said.
Popular Democratic Party Sen. Eduardo Bhatia said minority lawmakers will not be attending the governor’s speech Sunday.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Rep. Denis Márquez criticized the governor’s decision to speak about the budget in Ponce.
“The governor’s determination of transferring the budget address to Ponce confirms that this is not about a budget address, but a political campaign address,” Márquez said in a statement. “The governor knows that the past budget was the one imposed by the board and so he decided to move the place where he will give his address and invents, together with the House of Representatives, summoning a Total Committee.”
Rosselló announced Monday that he would be delivering his annual budget address at the Complejo Ferial de Puerto Rico convention center in Ponce.
His address will be delivered at 5:15 p.m. and will be broadcast on WIPR Channel 6 and WIPR Radio 940 AM. The address will also be available through the governor’s Facebook account, https://www.facebook.com/rrossello/.