By The Star Staff
The Financial Oversight and Management Board recently rejected House Bill (HB) 513, which among other things seeks to establish a new base salary of $2,700 per month for teachers employed by the Puerto Rico Department of Education.
As reported by the STAR last week, the oversight board approved a new fiscal plan that allocates $1.8 billion for salary raises for teachers, firefighters and correctional officers over a five-year period.
In a Jan. 28 letter to Senate Treasury Committee Chairman Juan Zaragoza Gómez, the board said the bill has been the subject of prior correspondence between the oversight board and the Legislature. In a previous letter to Zaragoza dated Nov. 30, 2021 the oversight board expressed its support for HB 513’s purpose.
Notwithstanding, the oversight board said, the bill is inconsistent with the fiscal plan because it proposes to increase base salaries for teachers in excess of the salary increases provided for in the fiscal plan without identifying the source of funding for the corresponding increase in expenses, and does so outside the overall civil service reform plan required by the fiscal plan.
In fiscal year 2023, teachers will receive an increase of $470 per month in their base salary over two phases of implementation, pending successful completion of milestones as provided in the fiscal plan. In Phase 1, all teachers will receive a $235 per month increase on July 1, 2022, while in Phase 2, teachers could receive an additional $235 per month, effective Jan. 1, 2023, based on successful completion of milestones, the board said.
“We also understand the Bill has not changed since the Oversight Board conducted its prior preliminary review,” the Oversight Board said through its executive director, Natalie Jaresko. “As such, we refer you to our November 30, 2021 letter, which provides the basis for the Oversight Board’s conclusion that HB 513 is not consistent with the Fiscal Plan.”
“It is far more effective to engage on new laws during the legislative process to ensure that the Government and the Oversight Board share their respective analyses before new laws creating new government obligations are enacted,” the oversight board said. “Historically, the Government waited until after laws were enacted to prepare and/or share its analysis of the laws, which led to deficient section 204(a)(2) estimates and erroneous certifications, creating avoidable complications and, on occasion, requiring resort to the Title III court.”