Governor signs allocation of $20 million to social welfare agencies

By John McPhaul

Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced signed House Joint Resolution 737 over the weekend to allocate $20 million to semi-public, public and private entities and institutions whose activities or services promote the development of social welfare, health, educational and cultural programs and improve the quality of life of the citizens of Puerto Rico.

The funds come from the Joint Budget Resolution for fiscal year 2020-2021.

Centros Sor Isolina Ferre, Go Go Go Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rican Anti-Cancer League, SER of Puerto Rico, the Society for Deaf Children of Puerto Rico, the Ruth Home for Battered Women and the Julia De Burgos Shelter are just some of the 511 entities that receive financial aid as part of the $20 million approved in the measure signed by the governor.

Vázquez also clarified that other amounts that were included as reallocations, which were not part of the original $20 million, received a line-item veto.

“Regarding the reallocations of funds from previous fiscal years that were included as amendments during the legislative process of the Joint Resolution, I have been forced to issue a line-item veto. Although I support such reallocations in principle, they are contrary to the pronouncements of the Federal Court when interpreting the PROMESA law on this type of reallocation of funds from previous years,” the governor said. “Unfortunately, they have said on more than one occasion that it is necessary to obtain the endorsement of the Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) in advance. For that reason, and with the objective of safeguarding the $20 million in donations from the original measure, which would be at risk if the entire measure is paralyzed in court as part of a judicial process, I have vetoed the line items that would create the controversy for not having used the proper process. This would have been disastrous for the more than 500 organizations that can now receive non-controversial funds.”

“Despite this, I have instructed the Office of Management and Budget to immediately present a Budgetary Approach to the [oversight] Board for that body to evaluate and authorize the items that I was forced to veto, so that they can work without risking the disbursement of the assigned $20 million,” Vázquez added. “I trust that the request will be evaluated and approved promptly and sensitively by the Board for the benefit of non-profit entities, which provide so many services to our communities in Puerto Rico.”

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