Board approves fiscal plan for Puerto Rico amid bankruptcy – Boston 25 News


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — (AP) — Pay raises for teachers, firefighters, police officers and other employees were included in a revised fiscal plan approved Thursday that will serve as Puerto Rico’s economic blueprint criticized by some as the island emerges from bankruptcy.

A federal control board that oversees the U.S. territory’s finances noted that many government workers have not seen a pay raise since 2014, a year before Puerto Rico announced it was unable to pay its more than $70 billion public debt load accumulated over decades through mismanagement, corruption and excessive borrowing to balance budgets.

The fiscal plan was approved a week after a federal judge signed another plan to slash the island’s debt after a nearly five-year bankruptcy battle, marking the largest debt restructuring in U.S. history. It goes into effect March 15.

“This is a very important moment for (Puerto Rico),” the fiscal plan stated. “For the first time in years, it can manage its resources without the cloud of uncertainty of bankruptcy.”

Police officers will see a 36% average salary increase compared with what they earned in fiscal year 2019. Meanwhile, teachers will see an average increase of 27%, firefighters 17% and correctional officers 15%. Even medical residents will see their first salary increase since 2003.

Some of those increases, however, are conditional.

Teachers, for example, will receive half of their increase on July 1, with the other half tied to them finishing a payroll and attendance system and providing for student attendance keeping. Correctional officers face similar requirements.

The Association of Puerto Rico Teachers criticized the conditions as well as the pay change, saying it only increases base salaries to $2,220 a month instead of the $3,500 it had requested.

“Do you think a teacher can live on the misery he earns and at the end of his days, not even have a dignified retirement?” the association said in a letter to Gov. Pedro Pierluisi.