Puerto Rico is fully protected and supported by the US government, what with it being one of its territories for many years. Unlike Arizona, Alaska or Hawaii, however, it is not yet considered a U.S. state. But efforts are made to bring the Caribbean island into the Union where it will take the 51st position on the list. What could this mean for the nation and its people?
List of Pros of Puerto Rico Statehood
1. Higher tax revenue for the Unites States
Presently, Puerto Rico cost the U.S. over $22 billion a year. But adding them to the roster of states will prove financially beneficial. This is because the island will bring in a large amount of extra revenue for the U.S. Treasury each year. A contribution of nearly $2 billion that will be brought in through sales and income taxes is not too shabby.
2. Improved quality of life for Puerto Ricans
Nearly half of the population of Puerto Rico is living below the federal poverty line. The nation is also drowning in debts and is facing problems with high unemployment rate and a public pension shortfall. But all these can go away when they are integrated as a full state of the United States. More jobs will be created and income benefits will increase.
3. Political independence
The United States Congress is in full control of the destiny of Puerto Rico. Although Puerto Ricans elect a governor and have a state government, the people do not have the right to vote on certain affairs that concern or affect them. What do the people living in America know about the real score in Puerto Rico? But through statehood, the people can exercise sovereignty over their own affairs.
The shift in political control will also have an impact on the political situation. Puerto Rico would have 9 electoral votes in an election, 7 House representatives and 2 senators that will represent its people. Over 4 million people would also have the right to cast a vote for the President of the United States.
4. Improved economy
Once Puerto Rico becomes a state of the U.S., it can trade in an open market where all alliances of the US are participating. This would stimulate the nation’s economy and contribute to the improvement of the US economy.
List of Cons of Puerto Rico Statehood
1. Increased taxation
Most residents in Puerto Rico do not have to pay the federal personal income tax, but this privilege will be removed once it enters into statehood. This means that more people will be forced to the public dole as taxation increases and the economy continues to struggle.
2. Loss of culture and tourism
Although English is mandatory in public schools in Puerto Rico, it is still considered a foreign language and is only taught for 50 minutes daily, which explains why only 20% of the locals can speak fluent English. But when the island will be integrated as a full state, English could become the local language, kicking Spanish to the curb along with many other cultural aspects that make Puerto Ricans different.
In terms of tourism, what holds the appeal of Puerto Rico is the fact that it is an exotic destination that is different from the U.S. But, if it becomes an American state, its novelty will wear off. With tourism being the largest source of revenue, statehood could result in extreme amounts of money lost.