Government in puerto rico: Government of Puerto Rico

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and its Government Structure

The following is a guest post by Jesús Colón Rosado, an intern working in the Public Services Division at the Law Library of Congress.

The Spanish-American War and Its Aftermath in Puerto Rico

On July 25, 1898, American forces invaded Puerto Rico in the midst of the Spanish-American War. The Treaty of Paris marked the end of the war, when it was signed by the United States and Spain on December 10, 1898. Through this treaty, Spain ceded Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States. The treaty provided, “The civil rights and political status of the natural inhabitants of the territories hereby ceded to the United States shall be determined by Congress.”

Bombardment of San Juan, Porto Rico [i.e. Puerto Rico] (c1898). Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, //

On April 2, 1900, President McKinley signed the Foraker Act (ch. 101, 31 Stat. 77) into law, establishing a civilian government in Puerto Rico. The new government had a governor and executive council appointed by the U.S. president, a legislature with 35 elected members, a judicial system with a high court, and a non-voting resident commissioner in Congress.

Under President Woodrow Wilson, the Jones-Shafroth Act (ch. 148, 39 Stat. 951) was enacted on March 2, 1917. This law granted U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans, and separated the territory’s executive, judicial, and legislative offices into distinct government branches. This law granted civil rights to Puerto Ricans and created a locally-elected bicameral legislature, composed of the Senate and House of Representatives. Although the Jones Act created a republican structure of government, the law granted the governor and U.S. president the right to veto any legislation passed by the legislature, and the U.S. retained the power to stop any action taken by Puerto Rico’s legislature.

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

In 1950, Congress enacted the Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act (ch. 446, 64 Stat. 319). The law authorized Puerto Rico to adopt a constitution defining its internal governance structure. Puerto Rico held a constitutional convention (article in Spanish) from September 17, 1951, to February 5, 1952, which produced a constitution. By popular vote, a majority of the Puerto Ricans adopted this constitution on March 3, 1952. On July 3, 1952, Congress passed a joint resolution (ch. 567, 66 Stat. 327) approving the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Shortly thereafter, Governor Luis Muñoz Marín issued Administrative Bulletin 188, putting the constitution into effect.

Constitution in the Round, Photo by Flickruser Jerry Bowley (July 13, 2016). Used under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Like the U.S. states, Puerto Rico has a government system analogous to the U.S. federal government, with three independent, co-equal branches. Additionally, U.S. federal agencies, military bases, and a federal district court operate in Puerto Rico.

Executive Power

Puerto Rico’s constitution states that the territory’s executive power will be held by the governor of Puerto Rico, elected every four years by direct popular vote. There is no limit to the number of times a governor can be elected. Similar to the federal system, the governor has a constitutional cabinet, with secretaries who are appointed by the governor and confirmed with the advice and consent of the Puerto Rican (P.R.) Senate. One exception exists for the P.R. secretary of state, who must receive approval from the P.R. House of Representatives. Each administrative agency is empowered to create regulations through powers delegated by the P.R. legislature.

Unlike many U.S. states, Puerto Rico does not have a lieutenant governor. When the governor is temporarily unable to perform his or her functions, the secretary of state will serve as governor during the period of unavailability. If for any reason the secretary of state is unavailable, a secretary from the cabinet, as determined by law addressing succession, shall serve as an interim governor.

The governor’s powers include the authority to issue executive orders, grant pardons, and suspend or commute sentences in criminal cases. Unique to Puerto Rico, the governor may, when approving any appropriations bill containing multiple items, eliminate one or more line items or reduce their allotted appropriations.

Legislative Branch

The legislative branch comprises two bodies: the P.R. House of Representatives and the P.R. Senate. Puerto Ricans elect members every four years during the same election as the governor.

El Capitolio de Puerto Rico, Photo by Flickruser Wayne Hsieh (July 13, 2016). Used under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The House is composed of 51 representatives, while the Senate has 27 members. The P.R. constitution has a mechanism for increasing the number of legislators under certain circumstances. For example, article III, section 7 provides that if, during a general election, more than two-thirds of the members of either chamber represent a single party or candidacy, the number of legislators can be increased to prevent a super-majority in the P. R. House or Senate. As with the governor, legislators are not subject to term limits.

Puerto Rico is organized into 40 representative districts and eight senatorial districts. Each representative district chooses one member, and each senatorial district chooses two senators. The P.R. constitution also contemplates the election of eleven members in both houses, known as representatives and senators at large.

Akin to the U.S. Congress, each legislative body adopts the rules for its operation and internal government. Under article III, section 14 of the P.R. constitution, members of the legislative assembly enjoy parliamentary immunity for their votes and expressions made in chambers or during any of its commissions. Additionally, the P.R. constitution specifies that members may not be “arrested while the house of which he is a member is in session, or during the fifteen days before or after such session, except for treason, felony or breach of the peace.”

The legislative assembly has exclusive power to impeach the governor of Puerto Rico. The P.R. House of Representatives initiates the process by formulating an accusation approved by a minimum of two-thirds of its members. The P.R. Senate then is responsible for holding a trial and issuing a judgment.

Judicial Branch

The judicial power of Puerto Rico is exercised by the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, as well as the lower courts created by the legislative assembly. According to the P.R. constitution, the legislative assembly may create and abolish courts, except for the supreme court, as well as determine the venue and organization of the lower courts. The system is a three-tiered hierarchy, with the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Court of First Instance. Puerto Rico’s judiciary is one of general jurisdiction.

The governor appoints judges at all court levels, with the advice and consent of the senate. Although supreme court judges have no term limits, they must retire when they turn 70. Otherwise, they can only be removed from office through the impeachment process established in the P. R. constitution.

The U.S. Supreme Court has the authority to review Puerto Rican court cases in the same manner that it reviews decisions of U.S. state courts.

Additional Resources

If you would like to learn more about the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s government structure, you can consult these additional selected sources:

  • Guide to Law Online: U.S. Puerto Rico
  • Puerto Rico: Resource Guide
  • Puerto Rico House of Representatives
  • Puerto Rico Senate
  • Office of Legislative Services of the State Legislature of Puerto Rico
  • Office of the Governor of Puerto Rico
  • Puerto Rico Judicial Branch
  • Parliamentary Rights of the Delegates and Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico
  • In Custodia Legis blog posts on Puerto Rico

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Message to Congress on Self-Government for Puerto Rico.

To the Congress:

When sovereignty over Puerto Rico was transferred from Spain to the United States in 1899, the Treaty of Paris did not settle the exact position of Puerto Rico in the orbit of American sovereignty. It left that for determination by the Congress of the United States. After a brief interval of military government, the Foraker Act in 1900 established a framework of colonial government. Under it the Legislative Assembly was given rather limited powers; and the Governor and an appointed Executive Council held the real substance of authority. The inhabitants were to be citizens of Puerto Rico- American nationals, but not citizens.

In 1917 the Puerto Ricans received full American citizenship. At the same time the Congress, by the Organic Act of Puerto Rico, created a full-fledged Legislature, and provided for a much greater participation by Puerto Ricans in the Executive Department of the Government, reserving to the President the power of appointment of only the Governor, the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Education, the Auditor, and the Justices of the Supreme Court. This action of the Congress in 1917 bound Puerto Rico much more closely to the United States, and provided a substantial advance in local self-government.

During the 45 years which have passed since the occupation of the island by the United States the economic situation of the Puerto Rican people, although materially improved in some respects, has not changed in essential character. Instead of development toward economic self-reliance, there has been a steady tendency to become more dependent upon outside markets for disposal of the single great crop—sugar—and upon outside sources for food, clothing, building materials, and most of the other necessities. Partly because of economic and geographical factors and partly because of tariff preferences and shipping laws, these relationships are, by now, almost wholly with the continental United States.

The population of Puerto Rico has increased from 950,000 to about two millions, making this one of the most densely inhabited areas on earth. Depending upon the obligation implied by our active participation in their development, Puerto Ricans have been encouraged, in so far as they could, to try to attain American standards of life. Wages in Puerto Rico, for instance, are several times as high as those in nearby islands not under our flag; literacy is much higher than in other Caribbean islands; the percentage of those who speak English has grown progressively in every decade; our agencies of public health have made inroads on diseases endemic in the island; and serious attempts have been and are being made to provide better housing and to raise the levels of nutrition.

During the 45 years of our sovereignty, the elements of world military and naval strategy have changed also. When the island was first brought under our flag, the Panama Canal had not yet been dug, and the airplane had not yet been invented. The Caribbean was something of a backwater in the broad current of world affairs. When the present war became imminent, however, it was obvious that the chain of islands running in a great arc from Florida to the shoulder of South America, enclosing the Caribbean Sea, formed a vast natural shield for the Panama Canal, suited in distance and conformation to the uses of the military plane. And of this island shield, Puerto Rico is the center. Its possession or control by any foreign power— or even the remote threat of such possession—would be repugnant to the most elementary principles of national defense.

It has long been the policy of the Government of the United States progressively to reinforce the machinery of self-govern. ment in its territories and island possessions. The principles for which we are now fighting require that we should recognize the right of all our citizens—whether continental or overseas—to the greatest possible degree of home rule and also of participation in the benefits and responsibilities of our Federal system.

Puerto Ricans of all political parties, however divergent their views as to the political future of the island, are united in asking for the right to elect their own Governor. I believe that they are entitled to it.

The Congress will recall that on March 9 of this year I recommended to it «that it consider as soon as possible an amendment of the organic law of Puerto Rico to permit the people of Puerto Rico to elect their own Governor, and to redefine the functions and powers of the Federal Government and the Government of Puerto Rico, respectively. » In order to assist in framing the required legislation, in case the Congress should decide to grant this power to the people of Puerto Rico, I appointed a committee composed of an equal number of Puerto Ricans and continental residents. I requested them to make a study of the amendments to the Organic Act necessary to authorize the election of a Governor and to redefine the relationships of the Federal and Insular Governments affected thereby.

That committee met in Washington almost daily for three weeks this last summer. It has sent me a full report of its recommendations in the form of a proposed bill and a summary statement of such bill.

I am forwarding this report of the committee to the Congress for consideration by them. The legislation was drawn by the committee itself, and I am submitting it as a possible guide for such action as the Congress may decide to take.

Under this bill the people of Puerto Rico would be given an opportunity for the free exercise of the powers of local self-government in all three branches of government- executive, legislative, and judicial. There would be reserved to the President the power to veto only such measures passed by the Legislature as were beyond the proper field of local self-government. There would be a United States Commissioner General in Puerto Rico upon whom would devolve the responsibility for the execution of the laws of the United States, and for the coordination and supervision of the activities of Federal civilian agencies, and their correlation with the activities of insular agencies. He would also have authority to require reports of all activities of the Insular Government for transmittal to the President through the Secretary of the Interior. The fiscal relationship of the Insular Government to the Federal Government would not be altered, nor would the ultimate power of Congress to legislate for the territory. The people of the island would, however, be given assurance of the intention of Congress to obtain the concurrence of the people of the island before imposing upon them any further changes in the Organic Act.

There is no reason why their Governor and other officials should continue to be appointed from without. At this stage of Puerto Rican development, the withholding of this right is no longer necessary. There is no question of Puerto Ricans’ ability now to administer their own internal affairs and to assume the attendant responsibility.

It is recommended by the report of the committee that this fact be recognized at once. I agree that this should be done; and suggest that the Congress should consider it as a matter of right and justice for Puerto Ricans.

As to the future, it is not proposed that the political development of Puerto Rico be left to chance. On the contrary, it is recommended by the committee that a continuing Joint Advisory Council, under the chairmanship of the Secretary of the Interior, be appointed to conduct continuing economic and political studies of all the elements of the Puerto Rican situation and of American necessities, to guide us for the future. This Council must report at least once during the life of each Congress.

In addition to the Secretary of the Interior, the Council would consist of the Governor of Puerto Rico and the Commissioner General, who shall serve ex officio, and also four persons to be appointed by the President of the United States, and five persons to be appointed by the Governor of Puerto Rico.

The Government of Puerto Rico should not be static; it should be changed and developed as conditions warrant. It is equally important that the economic situation of the Puerto Ricans should be improved. I am confident that with patience and cooperation both these objectives can be attained.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Message to Congress on Self-Government for Puerto Rico. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

90,000 Natalia Yaresko leaves Puerto Rico after five years of work. How did she save the island from debt and what does she think about Ukraine during the Zelensky era? Interview

Former Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalia Yaresko is completing a five-year mission to Puerto Rico, where she chaired the Financial Management and Control Council. The goal has been achieved — the restructuring of the island’s debts under US jurisdiction for $72 billion is almost completed

Forbes Ukraine has released a new issue of the print magazine. It contains almost two dozen exclusive materials. You can buy the magazine with free shipping here. nine0003

A similar $15 billion debt restructuring in Ukraine in 2015, led by Yaresko as finance minister in Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s government, helped the country avoid default. Jaresko’s team for the first time began to verify state payments and tried to introduce equal taxes for everyone at a single rate of 20% with the elimination of benefits, but did not find support in the Ukrainian parliament. A year and a half later, Natalya resigned from her post, although she was ready to head the government.

Puerto Rico has about 3.6 million inhabitants and over $70 billion in debt (in Ukraine, with 10 times the population, $87 billion). In 2016, Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla declared default. Jaresko accepted the proposal of the US Congress and left to save the island from the debt crisis. The other day, Natalia announced the completion of work in Puerto Rico from April 1. nine0003

What are your future plans after completing your mission in Puerto Rico?

Don’t know yet. I finish my work in Puerto Rico on April 1st. After that, I will stay there until the end of the school year. There are no concrete plans yet. I want to take some time off and think about how to build a professional career in the future.

Were there any offers?

Many have applied, but so far there are no specific proposals. In addition, I remain in office for another 60 days. nine0003

What will you do?

A very important date is March 15th. Completion of all transactions under the settlement plan. There will be an exchange of old bonds for new ones.

The process in Puerto Rico is very different from the Ukrainian restructuring. Not only specific bonds are involved here, but all financial claims that anyone had against the government before the date of filing in court in March 2017. These are, for example, pensions of civil servants, non-guaranteed creditors who were supposed to receive money from the government or payment for services rendered to the government. That’s $33 billion in claims. nine0003

Most of these $33 billion are bonds of various government agencies. On separate pension issues, $50 billion in claims.

Thousands of transactions must be completed on March 15th. For example, civil servants had private pension accounts. Now there is nothing in these accounts, but on March 15, $1.3 billion will be credited to them. Guaranteed lenders will also receive a portion of the funds.

In total, for these $33 billion of debt, the liability will be reduced by 40%. But each group of creditors has its own conditions. For example, only $7 billion will remain in bonds.

In addition, in the remaining 60 days, I have two bankruptcy cases to complete if I can. This is the bankruptcy of the state electrical enterprise and the company that manages roads — an analogue of the Ukrainian «Ukravtodor».

If there is more to do, why did you decide to end the mission?

These five years were very difficult. After the most difficult years in Ukraine. It started with a financial and debt crisis, followed by hurricanes, earthquakes, and a mini-revolution. The people kicked out the governor. Then the pandemic began. All this has affected our time and ability to pay obligations. We have restructured 80% of the $72 billion that was included in this process. nine0003

Where was it more difficult — in Ukraine or Puerto Rico?

Difficult to compare. In Ukraine, a debt crisis arose not only because of poor financial management, but also because of the war, occupation and annexation of parts of the territories. There is nothing worse than war. In Puerto Rico, people also suffered. But war is war.

There were GDP warrants in Ukraine, but what was the incentive for creditors in Puerto Rico?

Part of the $33 billion in claims will be paid in cash. Additionally, new bonds for $7.4 billion will be issued.

For the first time in the US, we have used an instrument comparable to Ukrainian warrants for municipal bonds. These are the newest bonds that are tied to a certain type of income. For example, one type of bond is pegged to sales tax income (similar to Ukrainian VAT). If the income exceeds the planned one, creditors will receive a part — a percentage of this excess.

In general, court creditors will have no more than 7.2% of all government revenue per year. This will help avoid a new crisis. They took on too much debt to close the operating deficit. Now borrowing from a bond can be used not for deficit, but only for capital investments. That is, in addition to solving the debt problem, a debt management policy is introduced, which limits the government in the future in the use of new bond issues. nine0003

Natalya Yaresko. Getty Images

Was it difficult to negotiate with creditors?

Five years! Very hard. I explained to creditors, as I did in 2015, that Puerto Rico could not repay this amount of debt. Creditors believed that this was a temporary problem, and offered to defer the debt for a year, two, or five. We tried not to reduce the amount, but to delay it. And we tried to reduce. nine0003

When the next crisis “came”, it was necessary to start negotiations from scratch. Due to the hurricane, the island was completely destroyed, the electricity system was destroyed. Earthquakes destroyed the southwestern part of the island. The pandemic completely brought down the economy. Every time we agreed, we found the level of solvency, but with the new crisis it fell even lower. I had to stop, tell the court that the agreements needed to be revised again, because the situation worsened.

The second difficulty is that not only bonds are involved here. More than 60 groups of creditors. Each group has its own requirements. And with each agreed separately. nine0003

Have you had to go through unpopular reforms? How did the people react to them? And how did you build communications to explain what is needed?

In these five years, in addition to settling the bankruptcy, we worked on fiscal and structural reforms. Fiscal reforms were difficult – spending had to be cut, as in Ukraine, to balance the budget. We have consolidated various state structures. There has been no increase in the salaries of civil servants since 2013, even in terms of inflation. The salary increases are just starting. nine0003

The “pension” issue was the most painful. Pension funds were liquidated — they were unable to pay the promised pensions. Now they need to pay from the budget. In the future, everyone should create their own retirement account, invest their money and manage it independently. The state will not participate.

We talked all the time, but it was difficult. There is a government, the Congress of Puerto Rico, that did not want these changes. We were, compared to Ukraine, in the role of the IMF, demanding reform in order to stabilize the system. nine0003

Is that why the mini-revolution you mentioned happened in the country?

The revolution was not due to reforms. People came out against the governor, because a record of his negotiations with certain people appeared in the public field, where he expressed disrespect for the people.

What is the current economic state of Puerto Rico? Is the island ready for further reforms?

The economy is now in good shape. Since the pandemic, the federal government has provided large funds. For Puerto Rico, this coincided with the receipt of funds for recovery from hurricanes and earthquakes. The government now has access to $100-120 billion in federal funds for reconstruction and to overcome the consequences of the pandemic. Such funds have not been seen in Puerto Rico in its history. There are some rules where you can use these funds. This is a unique historic opportunity to rebuild the island and its economy. nine0003

But Puerto Rico’s own economy, apart from federal funds received, is not growing. She’s not competitive enough. And the reforms that are needed to make it competitive need to be done despite federal funds. In 10 years, these funds will be used and Puerto Rico will return to past trends.

There are five structural reforms to work on. The first is the labor market. There is a very low level of employees — less than 40%. nine0003

The second part is the reform of the basic education system. There are many private schools here. Children graduate from public schools with a very low level of knowledge. If 280,000 children are without basic knowledge, how can they be part of the economy?

The third is the power supply system. It uses coal and diesel fuel. They should be replaced with ecological sources. And very high electricity prices affect business. And after the hurricane, it (the power supply system. — Ed.) was simply destroyed. For example, today it is raining and we have no electricity. nine0003

Fourth, Puerto Rico competes with Ireland and Singapore in pharmaceuticals, and with the Dominican Republic in tourism. But the ease of doing business ratings are very low. We need to improve tax administration and business registration in order to attract investors.

Fifth — infrastructure. You can imagine her condition after earthquakes and hurricanes.

“In 2015, there were also statements by Putin that in four hours his army could be in Kyiv”

What, in your opinion, should be the policy of the Ukrainian government in relation to debt now? Is there a need to resort to radical solutions? nine0012

In the situation with the build-up of Russian troops on the border, it is important to maintain stability in order to prevent panic. But to fulfill the main task is to finance the army and ensure the implementation of state security policy.

Natalya Yaresko. Getty Images

Ministry of Finance panic played into the hands: he bought another part of the GDP-warrants. Coup? nine0012

They could be purchased even earlier, in 2016-2017, when prices were much lower.

The question of the nationalization of PrivatBank was on the agenda even when you were in government. Now the possibility of dividing the bank into «good» and «bad» parts is being considered. Will such an operation increase the chances of selling Privat to a non-state investor?

One way or another, the investor will be interested in the absence or reduction of legal risks. They won’t disappear until this case ends in the courts. Even if the bank is divided. nine0003

The investor needs guarantees. It is important that he understands that at the level of the judicial system his interests will be protected. Whether the government is in principle able to provide such guarantees and take risks, and whether the judicial system of Ukraine is able to provide this, is an open question.

What is the communication of the country’s leadership, provided that the economy is really very dependent on the information background?

Don’t panic, but be prepared for anything. Hiding your head in the sand is not an option. In 2015, we also heard Putin’s statements that his army could be in Kyiv in four hours. And we were preparing for it. nine0003

Are Ukrainian officials right in calling on Western colleagues and the press not to escalate the situation once again?

I don’t want to criticize, because I know how difficult it is to keep the situation under such conditions.

The latest initiatives of the Ukrainian government — cash registers, sole proprietorships and the like — how progressive is this desire to control business fiscally?

PPO for me is part of a civilized economy. This is definitely better than when endless tax audits come into business. nine0003

Do you support the idea of ​​a tax amnesty?

No. This is a solution for those who do not want to live in a legal world. How, in this case, to demand from all entrepreneurs and citizens to pay taxes, if it is possible not to pay and wait for an amnesty? Tax rules should be the same for everyone.

Several bills have already been registered in the Verkhovna Rada providing for a significant simplification of the tax system, even including the elimination of ERUs, and the introduction of a tax on withdrawn capital for small and medium-sized enterprises. Is this a move in the right direction? nine0012

I support the simplification of the tax system, but a guaranteed expansion of the tax base must be a prerequisite. If we are not sure about this, serious problems can befall us. For example, what will happen to pensions if we drastically reduce ERUs?

Is there an adequate version of the tax on withdrawn capital for Ukraine?

World experience shows that this idea does not always work. In Ukraine, however, there is no necessary level of transparency that would allow not to lose the tax base. nine0003

The Ukrainian authorities are actively promoting the de-oligarchization narrative. And indeed, the enterprises of the richest Ukrainians have recently increasingly dealt with, for example, fiscal authorities. Does the common end justify such means?

I don’t like the word «deoligarchization», because in this way we repeat the Soviet narrative that all rich people are bad. If a person enjoys an exclusive position, it is necessary to solve this problem with antitrust and tax laws. There are rules of the game. They must be fair and equal for everyone, because government policy, as a rule, creates opportunities for the emergence of oligarchs. nine0003

After the radical change of power in Ukraine in 2019, many investors and entrepreneurs have hope that the country will be able to return to the path of progressive reforms, somewhat suspended after 2016-2017. Did you feel similar optimism watching this change from a distance, and is there a certain amount of disappointment now?

I am optimistic about Ukraine’s prospects, primarily thanks to democracy. It is not so important who exactly occupies this or that position. The main thing is that the Ukrainian people always demand improvement and change. This is a very important feature of society when reforms go from bottom to top, and not vice versa. Therefore, constant social pressure is a very strong factor in moving forward. It is necessary that the people demand and have the opportunity to democratically elect the government. It is only important that the leaders are not populists. Populism destroys their conversation with the people. nine0003

Related materials

Government of Puerto Rico is arguing about debt restructuring


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The Puerto Rico government and the federal control board, which oversees the island’s finances, disagreed on Friday over how the US territory should emerge from a long and contentious bankruptcy.

Both parties were at odds over a debt restructuring agreement for Puerto Rico’s electricity company and how to generate revenue for the island’s transportation authority.

Some prominent senators, including the president of the Senate of Puerto Rico, remain unconvinced of a preliminary deal that would restructure debt by more than 9billion US dollars owned by the Electricity Authority, the island’s largest government agency. Bond advocates must negotiate a deal that will reduce the company’s debt by more than 30 percent. Even as the recurring riots continue, legislators and many citizens argue that this will lead to even more power laws.

This lack of support prompted David Skel, chairman of the council, and others to meet with legislators this week in an attempt to get the necessary votes. nine0003

Skel said there could be other options if lawmakers back out of the proposed deal, but he and other council members warned it would be riskier and more expensive.

According to Antonio Madina, this opens the door for bondholders to pursue many legal paths, including transfers. Another tie between the council and Puerto Rico is a proposed 8.3 percent tax increase during 2024 to improve traffic conditions and increase revenue for the island’s Highways and Transportation Authority. nine0003

The Board stated that only 13 percent of Puerto Rico’s highways are in good condition, compared to an average of 84 percent on the US mainland. Since 2005 taxes have not been adjusted.

John Nixon, board member, said the proposed increases were huge. They will have an impact on the public, but the failure to implement them over time is what leads to such an increase. Pedro Pierluisi, who attended Friday’s board meeting, rejected the proposed increase and said it was not necessary because there were other sources of income. He noted that the average per mile in Puerto Rico is among the highest U.S. jurisdictions. nine0003

He said that his administration would not take action that would affect users, but that he remained committed to bringing the Roads and Transportation Authority out of bankruptcy by the end of the year.

Debt restructurings for the Authority and Puerto Rico’s electricity company are the latest biggest now, almost five years after the island filed for the biggest municipal bankruptcy in US history after declaring it could not pay its $70 billion debt load dollars. nineOl000

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