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For Immediate Release

Friday, April 13, 2018

Roselló’s ‘Out of State Program’ Will Increase Puerto Rico Deficit

AFSCME letter to PROMESA board calls out brazen attempt to mislead the public on the costs of sending Puerto Rican inmates to private prisons on U.S. mainland.

San Juan — 

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and its Puerto Rico affiliate, Servidores Públicos Unidos de Puerto Rico, sent a letter to the PROMESA oversight board on April 12, outlining several distortions and critical omissions in Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s April 5 justification of the so-called “Out of State Program.” The plan would hurt Puerto Rico’s struggling economy by offshoring jobs, lead to lower tax collections, and ultimately balloon the commonwealth’s substantial operating deficit.

The Puerto Rico Department of Corrections has made clear that it does not intend to wait for the Oversight Board to certify the governor’s plan. A Request For Proposal has been sent out to bidders. The department has announced that on April 24, it will hold a mandatory meeting for private prison company bidders.

In all three iterations of Rosselló’s fiscal plan, he fails to justify the so-called cost reductions claimed in this program. Instead, the governor has invented savings estimates and cited misleading figures in an effort to push through with his flawed plan, and he refuses to answer critics, including 35 members of Congress who recently penned a letter opposing his privatization scheme. In its letter to the Oversight Board, AFSCME cites the inaccuracies proffered by the governor and provides sources for each of its critiques. 

“We are frustrated and outraged that Governor Rosselló continues to make bogus claims that his privatization scheme will actually save Puerto Rico money,” said Steven Kreisberg, AFSCME’s director of research and collective bargaining, and a signatory of the letter. “Whose interests are being served by issuing a contract that will damage Puerto Rico’s fragile economy, increase costs to the government and create hardship for prisoners and their families?”

Key highlights of AFSCME’s letter:

  • Just one element of Rosselló’s plan would increase the government’s deficit by $46.6 million annually
  • Rosselló fails to support claims of $46.9 million  in alleged annual cost savings
  • Rosselló falsely claims that a similar effort to move Puerto Rican prisoners to private prions in 2012 was successful when the experiment ended with a prison riot that led to cancellation of the privatization contract 
  • Rosselló cites prison privatization efforts in Kansas and California, and makes erroneous claims about costs in each to support his claims

Read the letter here.

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