Congress is currently considering a compromise bill on Puerto Rico status. This bill combines elements of two bills that were introduced last year, and calls for a vote in Puerto Rico among three status options:
- Free Association
The House Committee on Natural Resources is gathering public opinions on the draft bill. They have held public forums in Puerto Rico and have also opened a web page where people can share their opinions.
One commenter there has suggested a different status for Puerto Rico: becoming part of the state of Florida.
Unification with Florida
“It is with great respect and humility that I submit this proposal for a completely different paradigm to achieve statehood for Puerto Rico: to become part of an existing US state, Florida, via annexation,” writes Constituent 803804 from Puerto Rico. “Historically the sole focus of our local statehood leadership, especially from the Partido Nuevo Progresista or PNP, has been to become the 51st state of the Union, with its own governor, Congressional and Senate representatives, its own state legislature, and most importantly all the immense political power and budget that comes with that. But the pro-statehood citizens of Puerto Rico do not care about local leadership achieving all that power – they just want to become a state. Most of US Congress and Senate members, as well as state governments, do not want a new state as many of them would lose Congressional and Senate representation to a new state.”
It is true that changes in population change the number of Members of Congress a state has. Each state has two senators, but states have different numbers of representatives in the House of Representatives depending on the population.
“Becoming a County (or a few counties) of a greater state like Florida removes these objections, and allows for an expedient and simpler process for Puerto Rico to become a County within a much larger and powerful state such as Florida,” Constituent 803804 continues. “Just by this union the PR economy would flourish – tourism, manufacturing, energy, services, remote workers, healthcare, etc would flock to PR given the special tax zoning (coded in federal laws that include states), lower salaries, high performing bilingual professional pool. We would gain all the benefits of Florida residents, particularly access to public institutions of higher education in mainland Florida, and the reverse is also true for mainland Floridians to have access to resident status and fees at our local public universities. The state of Florida will get all the benefits of an immediate addition of 3.5 million citizens: sales taxes in the billions each year, federal appropriations that are based on number of citizens, an area where businesses from other states and countries would flock to and add to Florida’s tax revenue, a really big island to attract additional out of state tourism, and the voting loyalty to those who support and implement this option. And the list of benefits go on, including Florida state level supervision of Puerto Rico County level officials, Florida laws and regulations, court system, etc.”