Skip to comments.Not Yet a State, Puerto Rico Practices Good Governance
Posted on 01/03/2012 5:05:28 AM PST by cll
Sun, sand and 80-degree temperatures distract most winter visitors to this U.S. island territory from the visible signs of aging at the 57-year-old Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, a critical hub to the Caribbean, but increasingly expensive to run and maintain.
Thats not good enough for Kenneth McClintock, the secretary of state for Puerto Rico, who says the airport is about to undergo world-class upgrades made possible through a long-term lease with a private company that will finance, design, build and operate the facility.
Its a showcase project that will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenues, says McClintock, whos been a key player in the islands aggressive use of public-private partnerships (P3) to modernize public infrastructure. Act No. 29, passed by the Legislature in 2009, created the Public-Private Partnerships Authority that, in consultation with investment banking firm Macquarie Capital, developed the commonwealths ambitious P3 program. So far, the growing portfolio includes 100 K-12 schools, road improvements and public transit.
The authoritys five-member board of directors includes two members suggested by the Legislature. They are in on day one for everything, says McClintock, and they decide on behalf of the Legislature, which means individual deals dont return to the Legislature for ratification.
In that way, they have managed to insulate P3s from the political process, says Sean Slone, senior transportation policy analyst with The Council of State Governments (CSG). He says Puerto Ricos independent P3 authority is unique among the 31 states with legislation that allows them to enter into P3s.
The P3 strategy is part of larger government reforms that include agency consolidations in education, corrections and labor. Gov. Luis Fortuños administration has reduced government spending by 20 percent in the two years since taking office. Public employees have shouldered much of the budget cuts: 23,000 jobs have been eliminated and remaining salaries are frozen for two years. These and other measures seem to be working. In 2009, Puerto Ricos deficit was the highest proportionately when compared to the 50 states. Today, by the same measure, the commonwealth ranks 20th and would be 15th under provisions of its 2012 budget. Meanwhile, its bond ratings have risen from junk to AAA.
Theres a sense that Puerto Rico is preparing to emerge as an equal to states, not an appendage, dependent on the republic. The territory, with a land mass and population roughly equal to Connecticut and three times that of Rhode Island, is getting increased attention on the mainland. Puerto Rico is a full member and an equal participant among states about ideas and best practices for governing well, says John Mountjoy, CSGs director of policy and research. Theyre not at the kids table.
Fortuño, a Republican, and McClintock, a Democrat, are both intent on pushing away from the kids table once and for all, setting aside mainland party labels in favor of a common desire for statehood. Fortuño has put the question of political status back on the ballot through a two-step nonbinding plebiscite. It will be the fourth time since 1967. On Aug. 12, voters will be asked if they prefer the status quo or change. If change wins, theyll vote again on general election day among choices that range from statehood to all-out independence.
Puerto Ricans have been part of this great nation since 1898 and citizens since 1917, says McClintock. He adds that the vote may create a crisis that will then lead to the United States government realizing that they have to get off the pot and help resolve a 114-year-old dilemma.
"Theres a sense that Puerto Rico is preparing to emerge as an equal to states, not an appendage, dependent on the republic".
not giving the Dhimmicrats 2 more Senators and not till English is the official language.
better to let them form their own country...
Please correct me if I have this wrong but I believe PR has the greatest percentage of its population on Social Security Disability of any state or territory in the US.
I think they have a conservative republican governor.
I wish PR all the best in their privatization and consolidation efforts. Maybe we could take a lesson...
I think you're right, but Hawaii and Alaska are in the running too. The last thing we need is another liberal welfare police state joining the ranks. I'd like to give Hawaii to the Japanese and New York to Canada.
I love it! The tail is wagging the dog!
I support Puerto Rico’s statehood and I also believe that we need to consider adding additional states to the union. The Constitution does not limit us to 50 states. I would like to see us get to 100.
Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico there are social security offices all over the place and over 60% of the applicants are approved immediately. I don't know if Puerto Rican business and workers (if there are any) contribute to the system at the same rate we do.
The purpose of making PR a state is to create a strong democrat majority of state dependent citizens and add two senators and maybe three reps to increase democrat numbers in congress.
This is the best example of good governance they could come up with.
If tax pays pay the bill, if bureaucrats set the parameters, it’s still a government operation.
“I don’t know if Puerto Rican business and workers (if there are any) contribute to the system at the same rate we do”.
Yes, we employers and workers pay Social Security taxes at the same rate as in the states. Only difference is that SSI is not extended to island residents.
Privitization is a bribe to bring capitalits into the statist tent.
I don’t have those numbers.
Yes, we have a conservative Republican governor, a nominally Republican legislature, and Republican mayors in most mayor cities (San Juan, Bayamon, and Guaynabo).
Our Governor, leaders of both houses of the legislature and the majority of mayors of the largest cities are Republicans.
English is already an official language of Puerto Rico, which can’t be said about most states.
“better to let them form their own country...”
Better for them, too. We are headed towards dissolution anyway.
I have a PR email friend. According to her the popular mindset is -very- oriented towards social welfare. Aggravating this is the fact that jobs are hard to come by. She and her husband are planning to come stateside simply for the better job opportunities. That is a disturbing picture.
"Jonathan Lasher, an assistant inspector general at the agency, wouldn't comment on the case, but said, "The office of the inspector general is continuing to pursue any number of fraud allegations in Puerto Rico related to the Social Security disability program."
The investigation comes as part of a stepped-up presence in the U.S. commonwealth by the inspector general's office following a March article in The Wall Street Journal that showed how much easier it is to win Social Security disability benefits on the Caribbean island compared with any of the 50 U.S. states.
In 2010, the Social Security Administration awarded benefits in 63.4% of its initial decisions in Puerto Rico, compared with much lower rates elsewhere. In Arizona, for example, benefits were awarded in initial applications in 35.6% of the cases. Nine of the 10 top U.S. zip codes for workers collecting Social Security disability benefits are in Puerto Rico, according to government data.
A spokesman for the Social Security Administration said in light of "statistical trends" in Puerto Rico it has asked the inspector general's office to "make sure that these trends do not reflect an increase in fraud."
I’ve been there a few times. Work isn’t all that popular with the masses.
Good news. What is the political situation in Puerto Rico? I understand it has become more conservative.
“What is the political situation in Puerto Rico? I understand it has become more conservative”.
Yes, it has. We’ve had enough of pseudo-socialism, especially from 2001-2008.
Good for that!
Isn’t Puerto Rico one of 0’s 57 states? Personally, I would like to see PR & USVI as one state.