House lawmakers urge Senate panel chair to expedite disbursement of funds for nonprofits
By The Star Staff
The New Progressive Party minority leader in the island House of Representatives, Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Nuñez, along with Bayamón District Rep. Yashira Lebrón Rodríguez, asked the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Juan Zaragoza Gómez on Thursday to expedite the disbursement of the money granted to nonprofit entities in Puerto Rico.
“Nonprofit organizations are the backbone of the service provided to the people,” Méndez said. “It is a platform for direct aid that the government, due to its bureaucratic structure, cannot provide expeditiously. During my journey through public service, I have defended tooth and nail the work these entities do. However, this is the third time that the Popular Democratic Party delegation in the Senate has delayed, without real justification, the disbursement of the funds that these organizations need to continue operating.”
Méndez made his statements in response to calls from hundreds of nonprofit organizations that have had to cut staff due to the uncertainty associated with the disbursement of the allocated funds.
“We echo the words of the [former House] speaker,” Lebrón said. “These entities are too important to leave the disbursement of funds to the last minute, as is happening this year, the third time in a row that this has happened, for no reason. The Senate has to act now.”
“Our call is to Senator Zaragoza to speed up the process, remembering that in just two weeks, the period for approving measures in this ordinary session ends on Nov. 14,” she added. “Enough of playing with these entities that are essential to Puerto Rico.”
According to Law 113-1996, which creates the Special Joint Commission on Legislative Funds for Community Impact, there must be two field inspectors to review the evaluation process of each entity that requests legislative assistance to contribute to its operations. In the past four years, that number has increased to four.
“Doing a titanic job, under unique circumstances in our history such as the impact of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, earthquakes and the COVID-19 pandemic, these inspectors managed to visit the facilities of more than 540 of these organizations,” Méndez pointed out. “Today, some 619 entities have applied. We are at the beginning of November, and nothing has happened.”