McGovern Calls for Action to Address Puerto Rico Financial Crisis
WASHINGTON, D.C. – With Puerto Rico just days away from defaulting on a nearly half-billion dollar debt payment, Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) called for House Republicans to work with Democrats to find a bipartisan solution.
“With our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico facing a historic financial crisis that grows more serious by the day, the time for Congress to act is now,” Congressman McGovern said. “The future of Puerto Rico’s economy hangs in the balance and it is essential for Congress to pass a bill that would allow Puerto Rico to restructure its debt in a responsible way and get on a path to the firm financial footing going forward.
“Turning our backs on our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico is simply not an option,” McGovern added. “I am grateful to Leader Pelosi and Ranking Member Grijalva for their work to lead bipartisan talks. I urge my Republican colleagues to continue to work with them to move forward with a bipartisan solution that allows Puerto Rico to restructure its debt. I am proud to represent a vibrant Puerto Rican community in Central Massachusetts and will do all I can to ensure that Congress finally fulfills its responsibility to address this financial and humanitarian crisis and help our friends in Puerto Rico in their time of need.”
Impact of Ongoing Puerto Rico Financial Crisis:
- 10 percent of the population of Puerto Rico has left in the last decade, including two-and-a-half percent, or 85,000, in 2015 alone.
- One doctor leaves the island per day.
- 45 percent of the population of Puerto Rico lives in poverty.
- The unemployment rate stands at 11.7 percent, or more than double the national average.
- Suppliers to the government are owed $2 billion.
- Taxes and fees have increased significantly: sales tax has risen 11.5 percent, the highest in the country.
- Water rates have increased 65 percent.
- Government employment has decreased 27 percent since 2008.
- Puerto Rico’s State Insurance Fund is at risk of insolvency due to unpaid loans to the central government and public agencies.
- 150 schools have closed on the island, and it is anticipated that this number will increase to nearly 600 in the next five years, or half of all public schools.
- Therapy sessions for special education students are at risk of being disrupted because the Department of Education has not paid service providers in four months.
- More than 325 confirmed cases of the Zika virus have been reported, and 20 percent of the population is at risk of becoming infected.
- Hospitals across the territory have had to lay off staff and have dangerously low resources:
- HIMA San Pablo Hospitals will lay off 470 employees, or nine percent of their staff.
- San Jorge Children’s Hospital, the largest children’s hospital on the island, closed two wings, 40 rooms, reduced hours and cut pay for all employees, and cannot fund 70 vacant nursing positions.
- The Forensic Psychiatric Hospital cut more than half its staff.
- The Inglesia Episcopal Hospital has less than 12 days of cash on hand.
- 22 percent of homes in Puerto Rico are vacant.
- On average, 12 families lose their home each day.
- The delinquency rate on mortgage payments stands at 14.25 percent in Puerto Rico, compared to six percent in the mainland.