The White House has published a fact sheet called “The Build Back Better Framework Will Deliver for Puerto Rico.” The document details the federal support for the territory included in the Biden Build Back Better Framework, currently being debated in Congress.
The statement makes it clear that federal benefits for Puerto Rico are not intended to be a temporary handout. “President Biden’s Build Back Better framework will bring down costs that have held back families in Puerto Rico for decades by cutting taxes and making child care, home care, education, health care, and housing more affordable,” it begins. “These investments will provide new learning opportunities for children, help parents and especially working parents make ends meet, and position the economy for stronger growth for years to come. The framework will create good-paying jobs for residents of Puerto Rico, combat climate change, give our kids cleaner air and water, and make America the leader in global innovation and 21st century manufacturing.”
Invest in child care and early education
The average cost for childcare in Puerto Rico is $4,548, while the average annual income is $20,474. That works out to 22% of one parent’s total income. The build back better plan will ensure that families pay no more than 7% of their income for childcare.
Additionally, the program will provide free preschool for all 3 and 4 year olds. The intention is to offer high quality educational programs for children currently in daycare’s well as free preschool for those who do not currently have childcare or preschool.
This should prepare children for school more consistently, as well as allowing parents to go back to work. These steps will help build a solid foundation for Puerto Rico’s future.
Address climate change
The Build Back Better Framework aims to get carbon emissions down by 52% compared with 2005 levels, with a deadline of 2030 to accomplish this. The plan is to use a broad ranger of tactics across buildings, transportation, industry, electricity, agriculture, and climate-smart practices in general, and to do so with an eye toward creating well-paid jobs.
The plan will also create a Civil Climate Corps for climate-positive action. Finally, says the document, “In clean energy and in other sectors, the Build Back Better framework will also strengthen domestic manufacturing and supply chains for critical goods, benefiting American businesses, workers, consumers, and communities.”
Cut taxes and reduce expenses
The Framework intends to reduce the cost of higher education with an increase in Pell Grant awards and investment in colleges. It will provide grants for community colleges and for vocational training programs. Not only will these steps make education more affordable, they will also contribute to the job readiness of young people in Puerto Rico.
The plan includes funds for rental assistance and nutrition assistance for children and families. Reducing the most serious results of widespread poverty will make it easier for families to focus on their futures, to keep and progress in jobs, and to keep children in school.
Affordable housing construction will ease Puerto Rico’s housing crunch while also providing good jobs.
The plan provides additional funding for Medicaid to the tune of $3.6 billion and increases the federal Medicaid match to 83%, as it would be if Puerto Rico were a state. It also extends SSI coverage to Puerto Rico. These steps will help with government debt as well as making healthcare more affordable and reducing poverty by an estimated 7 percentage points.
The plan will also extend the Child Care Tax Credit in Puerto Rico and allow cash payments (already in place in the States) beginning next year.