Message of the Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rosselló March 28, 2018
Brothers and sisters of Puerto Rico,
I am addressing you during Holy Week, a period of spiritual reflection for our People. This year, with more passion, we should thank God for our lives.
I regret to interrupt this Week to communicate our position on the proposal that we have received today—right in Holy Week—from the Financial Oversight and Management Board.
As part of the evaluation process of the fiscal plan submitted by our government, the Board has sent us a communication proposing measures that would have the effect of increasing the conditions of poverty in Puerto Rico.
Although the Board endorsed our initiatives to transform the education and health systems, I cannot allow the Board to award itself powers that it does NOT have, much less when they intend to use this power to impose measures that negatively affect the quality of life of our People.
The Board proposes a labor reform based on very different parameters to those that were jointly considered during the past few months, and which I presented in recent days.
The conditions that the Board pretends to impose would make it practically impossible to increase the federal minimum wage; would eliminate the Christmas bonus for public employees, would further affect vacation and sick leave; and do not include programs for the training of our workforce. Our proposal was based in the salary increase for our workers and the creation of training opportunities. With these elements made impossible, the proposal is not viable.
The Board pretends to dictate the public policy of the government, and that, aside from being illegal, is unacceptable. To that end, I inform you that I revoke the proposed Labor Reform, which includes cutting back vacation and sick days, and eliminating the Christmas bonus.
However, the New Tax Reform and the Incentives Code, measures that will benefit most of the People and promote economic development, continue in our agenda of change and transformation for Puerto Rico.
Another aspect where there are differences between our Administration and the Board, is in its interference to dictate where cuts are made in the government. We propose cuts in expenditures up to 1.45 billion dollars and the Board wants to raise that figure to 1.58 billion. Yet again, they intend to dictate public policy, reducing health benefits while striking public employees and the economy of the Island.
The PROMESA Act establishes in Section 205 that the Board can make public policy recommendations, but NOT establish it. That is a role of the government elected by the People of Puerto Rico.
I inform you that although the Board certifies in the Fiscal Plan a reduction of 10% to pensions, that unfair and abusive measure will have my tenacious opposition.
It results in a great contradiction, that while the Board intends to impose cuts in expenses to the Government, which go beyond what is prudent and necessary, they request that the budget of the Financial Oversight and Management Board be increased.
There are other issues in which we differ with the Board that will be formally addressed in the coming days. In the meantime, I want to communicate to the People that our commitment to change and transform Puerto Rico is stronger than ever before.
Those who resist the change that facilitates the reconstruction of a better Puerto Rico—fairer, safer, and more progressive—will not stop the work we are doing to improve your quality of life.
Those who oppose the creation of new schools, in a better educational system, are not with Puerto Rico.
Those who oppose transforming the electric power system into a modern, efficient, lower-cost, and consumer-centered system are not with Puerto Rico.
To avoid the necessary changes for the development of our People, is precisely what has led us to the worst crisis in history. I did not take control of the government to do more of the same. I am here to transform Puerto Rico, and nothing will stop my commitment to improve your quality of life.
May God bless our Island.