Puerto Rico to Sue Control Board Over Austerity Budget

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello, left, speaks during a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on hurricane recovery, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

(CN) — Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rossello, took to Twitter on Thursday to say he plans to sue a federal control board to block the imposition of austerity measures.

Puerto Rico was in the midst of a decade-long recession when it was devastated by Hurricane Maria last summer.

In the past week, an impasse has emerged over which fiscal plan the island will adopt going forward.

On Monday, Rossello signed a budget approved by legislators instead of a $8.76 billion spending plan adopted by the federal control board over the preceding weekend that contains an array of austerity measures.

Rossello moved ahead with the lawmaker’s plan saying the control board’s fiscal plan goes too far and is intended to dictate public policy. However the biggest disagreement between the two plans is how they address Puerto Rico’s ongoing efforts to restructure a portion of its $70 billion public debt.

Even as he signed the budget measure, however, Rossello said he feared he was making “a symbolic gesture” and that the dispute will likely wind up in court before it is resolved.

In a bid to avoid that, Rossello called a special session of the Puerto Rican legislature and pressed them to  pass a measure intended to resolve the budget difference. Instead, the island’s senate sent the measure down to defeat.

Natalie Jaresko, executive director of the control board said later that  the body would do everything within our means to enforce the budget.”

“Courts are the first thing that comes to mind,” she said.

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