Puerto Rico board sends a slightly larger budget to legislature

Bonds

The Puerto Rico Oversight Board sent a fiscal 2022 General Fund budget 0.67% larger than the current fiscal year budget to the Puerto Rico legislature.

The board submitted its $10.112 billion budget to the Puerto Rico House of Representatives and Senate Monday. The current fiscal year’s budget is $10.045 billion, which has seen revenues coming in higher than projections.

In addition to the General Fund budget, the board also is sending a Special Revenue Fund budget totaling $3.451 billion. Revenues for this budget are from fees and services dedicated to uses or federal funds.

Puerto Rico Oversight Board Executive Director Natalie Jaresko said the budget was a product of the board’s collaboration with Gov. Pedro Pierluisi.

Aaron Weitzman

“Gov. Pierluisi and the Oversight Board worked together to establish a fiscally responsible budget for Puerto Rico with significant funding for social programs such as fighting child poverty and gender violence, social work, public safety, education, and healthcare while maintaining the fiscal balance required under law,” said Board Executive Director Natalie Jaresko.

The biggest items in the board’s General Fund budget are $2.342 billion for the Department of Education, $1.537 billion for the Health Insurance Administration (which administers Medicaid), $930 million for assignments under the custody of the Puerto Rico Treasury, $832 million for the Police Department, $507 million for assignments under the custody of the Office of Management and Budget, and $466 million for the University of Puerto Rico.

The budget assumes that special federal appropriations for Medicaid are not renewed in the new federal fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1. If the U.S. Congress and President Joe Biden were to extend special appropriations for Puerto Rico’s Medicaid, the board might reallocate the budgeted spending for it, as the board has done in past years.

The board highlighted that its budget included $15 million to hire additional school nurses, $10 million to treat opioid addiction, and $450 million rolled over from fiscal 2021 to improve broadband infrastructure in rural areas.

Under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act the board has the power to approve any budget it wants and have that budget be considered legally adopted.

The legislature is supposed to present its budget to the board on June 18. The board plans to approve the budget by June 30 as fiscal 2022 starts on July 1.

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