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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

NPP House delegation to evaluate each item in budget

Rep. Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Nuñez

By The Star Staff

The New Progressive Party (NPP) delegation in the House of Representatives will evaluate each item included in the new budget that Popular Democratic Party legislators say they will submit by June 6 for approval.

The announcement was made by NPP House Minority Leader Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Nuñez, who also stressed that within the budget will be items to implement a reduction in tax rates, including for the working class of the island, as well as for small and midsize enterprises.

“As we have always done, we will carefully evaluate the items that the Popular Party delegation details in the draft budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year,” which begins on July 1,” Méndez said in a written statement. “We do not have exact numbers, since the Finance Committee has not concluded the evaluation of the budgets filed by agencies, but we already see a delineation of a total budget of $12.7 billion. We will be studying this to ensure that all services are paid for and that the budget is not used as a political wish list without concrete and verifiable sources of repayment.”

“There are realities that we have to work on, but it has to be done,” the NPP minority leader added. “One of the big problems is that the House and the Senate do not agree, not only on priorities, but also on the filing of amendments, so much so that the [Financial] Oversight [and Management] Board itself that they defend so much in the House has been very vocal in its position around the lack of legislative action.”

Last week, the oversight board certified a 2022-2023 amended budget of $13.9 billion. During the announcement, the board’s executive director, Robert Mujica, attacked the Legislative Assembly, which is controlled by the PDP, for not presenting an amended budget as required by the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, commonly known as PROMESA.

“The budget is the main responsibility of any elected legislature; however, this is the third consecutive time that both houses of the Puerto Rico Legislature have failed to present a budget for the government,” Mujica said.

Méndez, a former House speaker, emphasized that the budget must contain items to implement tax reform.

“The Executive [branch] presented a reform in February that lowers taxes on our people and does justice to the working class of Puerto Rico,” he said. “According to the administration’s economic team, the application of these reductions will result in savings for individual taxpayers that exceed $262.5 million over a period of several years. The budget must contain sources of repayment for the next fiscal year. We have also heard that the House seeks to amend the measure, which had already been discussed with the Board, to add many other things. We are not going to endorse anything that puts this reduction in contributions at risk. Tax reduction must be a priority and must be addressed alone, not putting a lot of things into the bill that prevent its approval.”

Among the benefits of the reform is a reduction in the tax burden on households with incomes, whether individual or combined, of between $41,500 and $61,500.

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