Governor Rosselló and resident commissioner González announce allocation of funds for the recovery of Puerto Rico
(February 9, 2018 – La Fortaleza, San Juan) The governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rosselló and resident commissioner Jenniffer González announced an allocation of $16 billion in federal funds for the recovery of the Island after Hurricane Maria.
This appropriation is part of a budget legislation approved by the United States Congress and signed today by president Donald Trump. “These funds will allow us to advance the recovery of Puerto Rico after the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The work carried out in Washington—together with resident commissioner Jenniffer González—was able to deliver the message of the urgency of an allocation of funds that meets the needs of the Island,” said the governor. In addition to the direct $16 billion, Puerto Rico is also eligible to participate in other programs that could increase the amount of aid to $45 billion.
Resident commissioner González said that “at dawn today, Congress approved an unprecedented measure in the history of Puerto Rico, which gives us access to more than $47 billion to improve our infrastructure, strengthen our communities, and address the needs of our people.” González added that “we managed to comply with several of my most fundamental programmatic commitments, such as addressing the fiscal cliff of the Medicaid program. The unprecedented allocation of $4.9 billion that we obtained today for Medicaid will fully fund the Mi Salud program for the next two years without requiring the Government of Puerto Rico to pair a single cent.”
The approved funds include $4.9 billion for the Mi Salud (Medicaid) program, which avoids the fiscal cliff that was expected to occur if budget legislation had not been approved. The governor said that “the efforts carried out by our Administration and the resident commissioner paid off.
Now we cannot rest until the American citizens in Puerto Rico receive equal and fair treatmen t in the allocation of Medicaid funds.” Likewise, $11 billion have been allocated to the Community Development Fund to repair homes, support local businesses, and rebuild infrastructure while mitigating future risks. Of these, $2 billion will be set aside for the restoration and improvements of the power grid.
Additionally, $1.37 billion were approved for the Emergency Relief Program and $150 million provided to the Direct Loan Program to cover the cost of Puerto Rico’s federal cost share requirements. Of the $17,390 billion approved for the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), about $15 billion will be prioritized for the construction of flood control works in all affected states and territories.
This includes canalizations, dredging, dams, and pending works. The legislation also includes that the Federal government will cover the full expense of all repair, rehabilitation, study, design, and construction of USACE projects in Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.
The resident commissioner thanked “the support given by speaker Paul Ryan and the entire leadership of the committees to the point that they allowed me to open the debate this morning. Also, for the tireless work and all the support from senator Marco Rubio.
The congressional visits began to pay off.” “Will, passion, and patience were my best allies. There were many who did not believe this was possible. I always believed. So, today, I can say with satisfaction that we have achieved the largest allocation in history,” she added.
On the other hand, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides Puerto Rico access to previously appropriated State Revolving Fund money to help rebuild the island’s clean water and drinking water systems.
The Department of Labor will receive $30.9 million for the rehabilitation and repair of the Job Corps Centers in Puerto Rico. Likewise, the Department of Defense will assume one hundred percent of the total cost of construction (including the cost of architectural, engineering, and design services) for the acquisition, construction, expansion, rehabilitation, or conversion of the Puerto Rico Army National Guard’s Arroyo Readiness Center. On the other hand, the Army National Guard will receive $519.3 million to replace heavily damaged facilities at multiple sites throughout Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Additionally, the Puerto Rico National Cemetery will get part of $4.1 million to repair damages.
Funding is also provided to compensate for reduced collections for the Puerto Rico Trust Fund and the U.S. Virgin Islands Deposit Fund due to port damage and a decline in trade resulting from recent hurricanes. $45 million will be allocated to repair and restore the San Juan Customs House, improve its functionality, and terminate costly temporary leases.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will obtain $64 million to repair facilities in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Texas, and Florida that sustained water damage because of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. It was also announced that there will be an extension of the Rum Cover Over until fiscal year 2022, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was reported that the Emergency Relief Program of the Federal Highway Administration will receive $1.37 billion. Puerto Rico is provided one percent federal cost share for damages resulting from Hurricanes Irma and Maria for fiscal year 2018-2019. It currently stands at 80 percent. Through the National Science Foundation, the Arecibo Observatory will get $16 million to repair the radiotelescope. $14 million will be added to Puerto Rico for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.
The funds approved today are in addition to the $4.9 billion already allocated by the federal Congress under the Community Disaster Loan (CDL) program and the $1.27 billion for the Nutritional Assistance Program (PAN, for its Spanish acronym).
The joint work by the governor and the resident commissioner and the entire team have achieved two packages with an impact for Puerto Rico that could represent more than $35 billion for the economy of the Island and the municipalities. “Although these approved funds are a step in the right direction, it is very important to continue the pressure on the federal Congress and capital to do justice to the American citizens living in Puerto Rico. I would like to thank the resident commissioner for her great work and the members of Congress who voted in favor of the recovery of Puerto Rico,” said Rosselló.