In his State of the Commonwealth message, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló outlined important plans to do justice to broad segments of the population. It still remains to be seen how financing these proposals will fit with the goal of achieving the fiscal balance that must put Puerto Rico on the path of sustainable progress.
The governor did the right thing by acknowledging -and committing himself to rectifying- costly mistakes. He said that cuts to the Medical Center –while increasing La Fortaleza spending- was a mistake and that such cuts will no longer appear in the budget.
He was sensitive to the impact that the lack of resources at the Forensic Sciences Bureau has on hundreds of families. And he showed solidarity with residents of the municipality islands for deficiencies in the transportation system.
That attitude of openness should serve as a model to foster a climate of understanding with the U.S. President that opens doors to Puerto Rico in the complicated context of reconstruction. The moment calls for a constructive dialogue with President Donald Trump that will contribute to the best fiscal solution for our island.
The governor's address outlines proposals that should be studied in depth because they appear as vehicles to advance in social justice. Among these, the governor gave instructions to analyze the difficulties that prevent young people from starting and finishing postsecondary education and announced yesterday the creation of a multisectoral committee that will provide recommendations to implement cost-free access to education to students who qualify for their merits.
He rightly referred to health as a right and in line with this vision, he proposed mechanisms to monitor and regulate the cost of medicine.
He pledged to improve working and retirement conditions for police officers, granted permanence to temporary teachers and insisted on improving the climate for doing business on the island.
He also announced a proposal to create savings accounts for newborns, to facilitate the access of our impoverished children to better opportunities once they finish high school. This way, he reaffirmed his commitment and actions to transform the education system as a powerful tool to train productive, innovative and ethical citizens.
Puerto Rico´s biggest challenge is to address the main fiscal issues. In that direction, the next step is to identify the sources to finance the proposed initiatives and achieve the necessary fiscal balance of the public coffers still remains pending.
This step is clearly related to the broad vision of the Puerto Rico we want to build through the measures announced, aiming at a fair and sustainable development.
For example, the address included laudable initiatives such as those that address the situation students who often only eat at school. However, coordinating projects that boost the economic mobility of families so that they can provide basic needs for children still remains pending.
There other important issues in Puerto Rico such as gender inequity despite the fact that women make up half of the island´s population, and articulating wellbeing ecosystems for the majority population: our elderly citizens.
Solid foundations, with comprehensive policies, can facilitate economic, physical and social security, as well as opportunities for innovation and sustainability throughout the island.
Matching the proposals with their budget details maximizes the chances of success for the plan that the governor outlined in his address. We are confident that dialogue and collaboration with the Fiscal Oversight Board will lead to the best decisions.