Feb 20 2013, 11:51pm CST | by Luigi Lugmayr
San Juan, Feb 21 (IANS/EFE) The Puerto Rican House of Representatives has approved a bill to put an end to the per diem lawmakers receive during sessions in addition to their annual salaries of $73,775.
A similar measure was passed in the island's Senate last week.
The legislator with the governing PPD who presented the measure, Jose Varela, said Wednesday in remarks to the media that the bill is an historic step and will lead to a reduction of more than 40 percent in compensation to lawmakers.
He said the bill's passage is the fulfillment of the promise new Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla made during his election campaign to introduce significant reform in the legislature that includes salary reductions.
He said that starting now legislators will have to find jobs in private enterprise to supplement their salaries.
Garcia Padilla's plan includes, among other measures, reducing by some 30 percent the legislature's budget, adopting a strict ethics code and converting members into what he describes as citizen lawmakers, which means moving congressmen closer to social reality.
There are a total of 78 lawmakers in the US commonwealth's two legislative chambers.
The island's Senate now will have to evaluate the bill approved by the lower house and - if it elects to amend it - it then will be returned to the House of Representatives for additional review and redrafting.
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