Looking to build a new “civic infrastructure” for Puerto Rico in the U.S. mainland, a Center for a New Economy will be opening offices in Washington, DC and New York to insert itself in the discussion of fiscal and other issues, the think tank’s President Mike Soto-Class said Thursday.
“The focus of action on Puerto Rico issues has shifted to DC. I hope that’s temporary, but for that reason, we have to be there as well,” said Soto-Class, who founded the CNE as an independent nonprofit, nonpartisan organization in San Juan in 1998.
Since then, the CNE has produced conferences, analyzes and reports on key issues for Puerto Rico such as the government’s fiscal position, public debt, restructuring of public corporations, the competitiveness of the economy, the labor market, household finances and poverty, among others.
The CNE’s studies have been instrumental in the implementation of public policies of importance to Puerto Rico such as the development of the energy reform of 2015; approval of tax exemption for philanthropic giving in 2010; and the implementation of a Work Credit in 2006.
In addition, the CNE has inserted itself in the discussions that have taken place around controversial public policy, such as the government budget and the growth of public debt; the lack of funding for public pension systems; and the 2014 Tax Reform proposal.
“The CNE has become a player and is now going to begin doing more work in the U.S. mainland in New York but particularly in Washington D.C.,” Soto-Class said. “This has been provoked in part by the petitions we have received for the a need for an independent, credible voice that doesn’t represent bondholders or the government, and that can validate certain economic data.”
But it has also been provoked by our own acknowledgment that Puerto Rico needs to be represented where all of the decisions are being made in Washington D.C. on these issues. The new office will be located on Massachusetts Ave. and will be in full force in the summer, Soto-Class said.
“It’s important that Puerto Rico has a voice over there because we are the ones suffering from this crisis and the ones who will have to sustain the remedies that are the decided over there,” he said, referring to the talks happening at the U.S. Capitol regarding a solution for the island’s unprecedented fiscal crisis.
The CNE has been actively involved in the ongoing talks in Washington for the past few months, offering information and suggestions on the best possible solutions for the economic problems the island is facing.
That includes meeting with lawmakers and Obama administration officials, as well as testifying in congressional hearings.
The nonprofit plans to sponsor conferences similar to the one held earlier this month to discuss the island’s fiscal crisis and economic growth opportunities, as well as participate in direct lobbying, as allowed under its 501(c)(3) legal status.