Puerto Rico Pays Gov’t Employees $100 Million in Bonuses After Asking for $94 Billion in Federal Disaster Relief

by KATHERINE RODRIGUEZ

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello Nevares asked federal taxpayers to pay $94 billion towards the island’s recovery from Hurricane Maria, then reportedly spent $100 million on Christmas bonuses for the territory’s government employees.

The governor’s aides argue that the bonuses had been part of the budget approved last summer and that they are a longstanding tradition allowed under the law, the Washington Times reports.

Rossello requested the $94 billion federal aid package in November, estimating that $31 billion of the funds would go toward rebuilding homes and $18 billion would go toward repairing electric utilities.

The budget, however, had been approved before Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico, leaving the U.S. territory begging for federal aid.

Puerto Rico’s financial oversight board, established by Congress in 2016 to bail the territory out of defaulting on its debt, called the bonuses “imprudent” and said the governor should rethink his allocation of government funds in light of the recent hurricanes.

“Puerto Rico has demonstrated time and time again that its government is incapable of responsibly handling its finances. This is yet another such instance,” Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), a member of the House committee with oversight over Puerto Rico, told the Washington Times in a statement after the bonuses had been revealed.

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