Fiscal board submits $10.1 billion budget proposal to Legislature

By The Star Staff

The federal Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico has submitted a proposed $10.1 billion central government budget for fiscal year (FY) 2022 to the island Legislature for its consideration, according to a written statement issued by the oversight board early Wednesday.

FY 2022 begins on July 1, 2021.

The oversight board will work with the Legislature between now and June 18, when the Legislature submits its proposed budget to the board for consideration. The members of the oversight board will certify the completed FY 2022 budget by June 30.

The $10.1 billion proposed FY 2022 General Fund budget for Puerto Rico’s operations increased slightly from the previous year’s budget. The budget allocates 72% of funding to the priorities of education, public safety, health, economic development and pension payments, and includes $273 million in specific funding requested by Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia.

The budget allocates $454 million for social programs, including $167 million in family and children’s support programs, $70 million in scholarship funds for students and medical residents, and $11 million to fight gender violence. The budget includes $15 million to hire additional school nurses and $10 million to fund the treatment of opioid addiction. The budget also includes $450 million rolled over from FY 2021 to improve broadband infrastructure in rural areas.

“Governor Pierluisi and the Oversight Board worked together to establish a fiscally responsible budget for Puerto Rico with significant funding for social programs such as fighting child poverty and gender violence, social work, public safety, education, and healthcare while maintaining the fiscal balance required under law,” said the oversight board’s executive director, Natalie Jaresko. “Fiscal responsibility is not austerity. Fiscal responsibility is prioritizing taxpayer money and using it efficiently and responsibly to maximize the services and programs the people of Puerto Rico need and deserve. The FY 2022 budget focuses on these priorities and ensures their funding.”

The FY 2022 budget also includes $12 million for the civil service reform pilot program to ensure that the central government can provide quality services to Puerto Rico’s residents for years to come. Part of the Certified Fiscal Plan, the pilot program aims to align the government’s workforce capabilities and organizational structures; enable the government to better recruit and retain the right talent; augment employee development through standardized training; optimize human resources technology, compensation structures and policies; and redesign performance management and succession planning to promote employee development.

The FY 2022 budget fully funds the public employees’ pension system through the Paygo system that

replaced the insolvent pension trust. The budget also includes Medicaid funds for which the U.S. Congress has not yet extended incremental funding to ensure the continuation of much needed healthcare programs.

The proposed budget also includes necessary measures required under the Certified Fiscal Plan to improve fiscal sustainability as mandated under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, commonly known as PROMESA, make Puerto Rico’s government more efficient, and reflect Puerto Rico’s declining population.

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