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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Oversight board: Bill to boost hiring of autistic workers via tax breaks is inconsistent with fiscal

Sen. Juan Zaragoza Gómez

By The Star Staff

The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico rejected a bill that would provide tax deductions to encourage the hiring of workers with autism because it is inconsistent with the commonwealth fiscal plan.

The oversight board said the measure would have a negative fiscal impact of about $5.1 million per year, a recent letter noted.

The Oct. 31 letter sent by the oversight board’s general counsel, Jaime El Koury, to Popular Democratic Party Sen. Juan Zaragoza Gómez notes that Senate Bill (SB) 839 is currently pending in the Legislature and has not become law.

The bill proposes, among other things, to amend the Puerto Rico Internal Revenue Code to establish a tax deduction for “private enterprise employers” that hire individuals diagnosed with autism. The bill would also empower the island Department of Labor and Human Resources to identify and create the necessary tools for people diagnosed with autism to join the workforce, the letter says.

The oversight board said it understands and shares the government’s desire to expand the rights of the autistic population in Puerto Rico. “However, the negative fiscal impact of SB 839 is estimated to be between $2.2 million and $5.1 million per year without providing offsetting savings or generating new revenues,” the letter reads. “While the [oversight board] appreciates the merits of the bill’s purpose, any bill that has a negative fiscal impact without corresponding savings or new revenues is not revenue neutral and, therefore, is inconsistent with the Fiscal Plan and, if enacted, would violate the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA).”

If the bill is a priority for the Legislature, the oversight board said it was willing to explore alternative approaches consistent with the fiscal plan and compliant with PROMESA.

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