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EL NUEVO DÍA
Proposed Changes for Puerto Rico Are Before the Congress
by Leonor Mulero
October 16, 1998
©Copyright 1998 El Nuevo Día
WASHINGTON - Two congressmen introduced their own bills regarding the
extension of Federal Income Tax to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and
English requirements for Puerto Ricans to receive federal funds such as
Although they will have to be resubmitted in the 106th Congress which
begins in 1999, the bills illustrate the type of debate on congressional
status which is expected after the Dec. 13 plebiscite. The bills were submitted
discretely in the last moments of this Congress.
Bill HR 4769, introduced by Republican representative Phil English of
Pennsylvania, is entitled, "Fiscal Equity and Responsibility for Puerto
Rico". It requires that the Secretary of the Treasury indicate all
measures which would be necessary in the event that Congress should decide
to phase in the payment of federal taxes by residents and corporations of
However, though it does not mention the word "incorporation",
this bill deals with mechanisms which would lead to Puerto Rico being incorporated
into the United States. Statehood is the traditional step which follows
English's bill requires that a report be filed on the current tax system
of Puerto Rico and the way in which tax revenues are distributed. The study
includes changes which would be necessary to the local tax law in the event
Congress decides to include Puerto Rico in the federal taxation system.
The Pennsylvania congressman wants an exhaustive study of federal spending
in the Commonwealth. He also wants a study of the alternatives available
to the federal government in order to phase in federal taxation on the island.
The idea is that, after a period of transition, the federal government will
collect taxes that equal, or exceed, Puerto Rico's federal spending.
Bill HR 4766, introduced by Republican representative Dan Burton of Indiana,
requires the U.S. Secretary of Education to conduct a study and submit a
report on recommendations for measures which would be implemented in the
event Congress mandates to restrict, or put conditions on, the availability
of federal aide directed at Puerto Rico's educational system. This would
include English-language requirements to receive Pell Grants, according
to Burton's bill.
"If Puerto Rico opts to become a State at some future date, it will
have to comply with the national English language policy, and if independence
is the ultimate status of Puerto Rico, then English should be strongly promoted
as a universal language of economic and social empowerment," states
The bill requires that the federal Department of Education study the
availability of educational instruction in English to Puerto Rican students
under the Commonwealth.
"The purpose of this legislation is to require the Secretary of
Education to develop policy recommendations throughout the next decade to
address the unique language education problems in Puerto Rico without delay
to ensure that student citizens there have an opportunity to learn, master,
use and promote the English language to obtain an equal footing with global
competitors," asserts the bill.
The Secretary of Education must submit the first study on language to
Congress no later than 60 days after the bill becomes law. The study is
to be repeated annually over a 10 year period.
In his Bill, Burton states that Congress supports the efforts of the
various sectors of Puerto Rico to make the English language available to
Puerto Rican students.
"The Government should ensure that it is not subsidizing an education
system in which student citizens of the United States in Puerto Rico...who
want greater access to English language education are denied that opportunity,"
the bill states. It point out that the U.S. government provides more than
$10 billion each year to the Puerto Rican Commonwealth. A significant part
of those funds go toward education, the bill states.
CLICK HERE for Bill HR 4769
CLICK HERE for Bill HR 4766
CLICK HERE for related article, The
San Juan Star