Puerto Rico’s new gov seeks statehood referendum amid crisis

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s new governor has been sworn in as the U.S. territory prepares for what many believe will be new austerity measures and a renewed push for statehood to haul the island out of a deep economic crisis.

Ricardo Rossello was sworn in Monday and proposed several measures aimed at alleviating the crisis. Among them is a proposal to hold a referendum that would ask voters whether they prefer statehood or independence.

Rossello also aims to boost public-private partnerships and use that revenue to save a retirement system that faces a $40 billion deficit. Rossello has pledged to work closely with a federal control board that U.S. Congress created to oversee Puerto Rico’s finances. He said he supports negotiations with creditors to help restructure a nearly $70 billion public debt.