Judicial and Legislative Responses to Puerto Rico’s Struggle to Allocate Scarce Financial Resources Between Bond Debt and Governmental Services
Puerto Rico is burdened by over $70 billion in debt, as well as approximately $35 billion in pension underfunding. Once the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5278, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), in early June and the Senate passed it on June 29, 2016, President Obama signed the bill immediately — and just in time to address a $1.9 billion payment that was due on July 1, 2016. PROMESA offers relief to Puerto Rico, its municipalities and municipal agencies following a 10-year economic recession. This panel describes the circumstances that led to the financial crisis, the failed effort of the Puerto Rican government to offer relief through a "state" statute that was found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and the details of how PROMESA is designed to work. The session provides an opportunity to discuss these issues in a casual setting, including the way forward for Puerto Rico, and features a panelist who served as Hon. Steven Rhodes' expert on feasibility issues in the City of Detroit chapter 9 case.