Protesters to governor: Sign Dignified Retirement Act into law

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia has until Tuesday to sign the Dignified Retirement Act to put the brakes on proposed monthly pensions as part of the commonwealth debt restructuring or risk having lawmakers override his veto, the spokesman for a protest action dubbed “All for a Dignified Retirement” said Sunday.

“We all hope he does [sign the bill into law],” Pedro Pastrana said. “If not, our next step will be to go back to the Legislature to encourage lawmakers to override his veto.”

After the Legislature passed the bill and sent it to La Fortaleza, the governor had 10 days to sign it into law or veto it. That deadline expires Tuesday.

The bill, however, faces the objections of the federal Financial Oversight and Management Board because it is inconsistent with the certified fiscal plan. House Bill 120 establishes a clear “zero pension cuts” government policy and would create a trust. The latest debt adjustment plan for the commonwealth that would restructure some $35 billion in debt proposes to cut 8.5% from all pensions above $1,500 a month.

All for a Dignified Retirement took place on Sunday in front of La Fortaleza.

“The governor has the chance to decide whether he is with the people or remains an adviser to the [Oversight] Board,” Pastrana said, referring to the fact that Pierluisi used to work for a law firm that advises the federal entity.

The oversight board plans to take to the Title III bankruptcy court on July 14 the central government’s disclosure statement and debt adjustment plan containing the proposed pension cuts.

Pastrana said he also hopes that eventually the Legislature will not pass a bill enabling the debt adjustment plan containing pension cuts, if all efforts fail to stop the cuts.

In the process of enacting a public policy of zero cuts to pensions, the bill proposes to create a trust for the joint administration of the island’s retirement systems that will be financed by employee contributions. It also proposes to return to the trust the income corresponding to the contributions of individuals and interests not accrued through defined contribution programs during the past two decades, allow the trust to take the financial institutions responsible for the advice and issuance of illegal debt to court, and grant pensioners the proprietary right to trust assets.

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