SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Puerto Rico's governor unveiled a budget Wednesday that prioritizes pension payments for tens of thousands of retired government workers who depend on a public pension system that is crumbling amid a deep economic crisis.
The proposed $9.56 billion budget is more than a half million dollars larger than last year's, and Gov. Ricardo Rossello said that for the first time in recent history the budget would be truly balanced.
"In the past, money was taken from areas, increasing budgeted spending and hiding debt," he said. "That's over."
The U.S. territory is struggling to emerge from a 10-year recession that has prompted more than a half million Puerto Ricans to flee to the U.S. mainland. Rossello's administration is in the midst of restructuring a portion of a $73 billion public debt load through a bankruptcy-like process in federal court after previous administrations borrowed millions of dollars to cover the island's debt for decades. The budget calls for $400 million in debt service payments.