Territory Gets Less than Any State in Competitive Programs

Puerto Rico receives far less per person in U.S. Government programs for which State, territory, and local governments must compete than does any State, according to a report from the territorial government’s Federal funds office.

It also gets funding under only a quarter of the programs.

State, territory, and local governments get grants under the programs based on decisions by Federal agencies. Funding in other Federal programs is given to States and territories based on allocations specified in the laws for the programs.

The total funding for Puerto Rico in programs that involve competition was $259 per person in Federal Fiscal Year 2010. The average of all of the States and Puerto Rico was $677 per person.

The least that any State received per person was $401. Florida was the State.

Puerto Rico — which has more people than 21 States — would have received $1.6 billion more than the $1.084 billion it got if it had received the average Federal competitive program funding per person, the office reported. It would have gotten $526 million more if it had received more per person than only three States.

The office’s calculations were that Puerto Rico also would have been granted $3.1 billion more if it had received the $1,081 per person awarded to Rhode Island, the State with the tenth highest amount of competitive Federal grants per person, and $5.7 billion more if it had been given the approximately $2,400 per person granted Alaska, which received the most in Federal program awards per person.

Puerto Rico only got grants under 214 of the 841 Federal programs as late as Federal Fiscal Year 2012.

The office found that the territory was eligible for 222 of the 627 programs under which it has not received grants. It judged that, “Puerto Rico should be able to participate” in the other 405 programs, but wrote that it was researching whether the territory was excluded from the programs by Federal law.

Because Puerto Rico is a territory, the U.S. Constitution permits the Congress to treat it worse than the States in Federal programs, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled. This includes excluding the territory from the programs.

Since it is a territory, Puerto Rico also can be discriminated against politically because it cannot have voting representation in the Federal government. Votes in the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, and in the election of the president of the United States can influence Federal agency grant awards to States and localities.

As a State, Puerto Rico could have as much or more political power in the U.S. Government than 24 States based on its population of 3.5 million.

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