Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló released a hurricane-recovery plan to the federal government Wednesday requiring $139 billion in outside funding.

The United States Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 required Puerto Rico’s government to submit the plan by Wednesday. The funding would run from fiscal year 2018 to fiscal year 2028, with most of it in the first few years.

Howard Cure, director of municipal research at Evercore
Evercore Director of Municipal Research Howard Cure said he was skeptical that Puerto Rico could get $100 billion in hurricane-related aid. Bloomberg News

The governor hadn’t yet released the plan to the public on Wednesday. A draft he released in early July indicated that 71.3% of the funding was to come from the federal government. This would equate to about $100 billion in aid.

“Getting almost $100 billion in federal recovery aid for Puerto Rico does not seem realistic,” said Howard Cure, director of municipal bond research at Evercore. “Without having any voting representation in Congress, it is hard to imagine an effective lobbying effort for this much aid.

“There may be some elected politicians from certain states, particularly Florida, in order to curry favor with former Puerto Rican residents that have relocated to their state and are eligible to vote, that would seek additional federal monetary support,” Cure continued. “These elected officials may also propose legislation to spur development such as favorable tax law changes. However, in this current political environment and with larger federal operating deficits looming, it would be difficult to obtain funding.

“One other point is that I am not sure the commonwealth has the credibility with the federal government to manage such a large capital program given the mismanagement of their existing infrastructure,” Cure said.

According to a statement from the governor’s office, the governor hopes to use $33 billion of the $139 billion for housing, $30 billion for water systems, $26 billion for energy systems, $15 billion for education, $8.4 billion for transportation, $6.3 billion for health, $6.3 billion for the economy, $5.8 billion for public buildings, $3.9 billion for environment, $3.2 billion for communications, $590 million for planning, and $190 million for municipalities.

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