Florida's Puerto Rican Lawmakers Ask Congress to Help Relieve Island's Debt
Florida's Puerto Rican state lawmakers are calling on Congress to help Puerto Rico consolidate its more than $72 billion in debt. Under a memorial proposed by 30th district representative Bob Cortes, federal officials would allow the struggling commonwealth island's municipalities and public utilities to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Current federal law prevents it.
Thousands of Puerto Ricans have already fled the island for central Florida.
Cortes says they will keep coming if the island doesn’t get relief.
“We’re not asking the federal government to write a blank check. We’re asking Congress basically simply, treat Puerto Rico as it was any state in the nation.”
Cortes and five other Puerto Rican state representatives proposed the memorial, which will be treated as a bill that state representatives will vote on when the legislative session begins in January.
The biggest message for them is that Florida’s economy is only as strong as Puerto Rico’s economy.
“Try to look for solutions to help them with things that create jobs," Cortes says. "It’s a direct and immediate impact because anything that happens over there definitely would benefit the state of Florida.”
Analysts say Puerto Ricans are slated to become Florida's fastest growing group.