Desde que asumió el cargo de Gobernador en enero de 2009, la prioridad principal del Gobernador Luis Fortuño fue la tarea de revitalizar la economía de Puerto Rico. Al comienzo de su administración, actuó decisivamente para enderezar las finanzas del Gobierno, seguido por dar un fuerte impulso a una serie de reformas y proyectos estratégicos que apoyaran el crecimiento económico integral y sostenido de la Isla.
Entre sus logros, durante la primera mitad de su incumbencia como Gobernador, Fortuño salvó el crédito de la Isla en Wall Street. En 2010, Puerto Rico recibió el mayor aumento de calificación crediticia de cualquier otro Estado o territorio en la Nación. En reconocimiento de la eficacia de sus políticas, en noviembre de 2010, la Isla recibió su primer pronóstico de crédito positivo en casi tres décadas.
Bajo el liderazgo de Fortuño, se re-estructuró un aparato gubernamental previamente sumido en gastos fuera de control. En dos años, Fortuño redujo el déficit presupuestario que heredó, más que cualquier otro gobernador en la Nación. Como resultado de las políticas de responsabilidad fiscal que implantó, Fortuño también presentó en el 2010 legislación para implantar el mayor recorte de impuestos en la historia de Puerto Rico. Con la reforma contributiva de Fortuño, la carga contributiva del pueblo puertorriqueño se reducirá un promedio de 50%, y la carga contributiva de las empresas se reducirá en un 30%.
El gobernador Fortuño es reconocido por sus pares alrededor de la Nación como un líder entre líderes. Se desempeñó como presidente de la Asociación de Gobernadores del Sur (SGA, por sus siglas en inglés) y presidió el Concilio de Gobiernos Estatales (CSG, por sus siglas en inglés)). También se formó parte de la Junta de Directores del Centro para las Mejores Prácticas de la Asociación Nacional de Gobernadores (NGA, por sus siglas en inglés), así como del Consejo de Gobernadores del Presidente de los Estados Unidos.
Antes de su elección como gobernador, Fortuño representó al pueblo de Puerto Rico en el Congreso, como su único representante al máximo foro legislativo federal. Durante sus cuatro años en el Congreso, Fortuño se distinguió por ser un campeón de política fiscal y social conservadora. Asimismo, logró un tratamiento más equitativo para Puerto Rico en programas federales, incluyendo la obtención para la isla de su primer aumento en fondos Medicaid en más de nueve años.
De 1994 a 1997, Fortuño se desempeñó como Secretario de Desarrollo Económico y Comercio de Puerto Rico. También al mismo tiempo, se desempeñó como Director Ejecutivo de la Compañía de Turismo de Puerto Rico y Presidente de la Corporación de Desarrollo Hotelero. En estas capacidades, Fortuño logró la adopción del código de comercio uniforme, el relanzamiento de la Ley de Corporaciones de Puerto Rico e implantó una política de inversión agresiva para el crecimiento de la industria de turismo en la isla.
El gobernador Fortuño nació y se crió en la ciudad capital de San Juan. Obtuvo su bachillerato de la Universidad de Georgetown, y obtuvo su grado de Juris Doctor (JD) en la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Virginia. Fortuño y su esposa, la licenciada Lucé Vela, son los orgullosos padres de los trillizos María Luisa, Guillermo Luis y Luis Roberto.
Fortuño later won the PNP gubernatorial nomination by a wide margin after defeating former governor and then-senator Pedro Rosselló in the primaries. He then won the general election for governor by a comfortable margin during the 2008 elections, defeating incumbent governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá.
Fortuño was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the son of Luis Fortuño Moscoso, a dentist, and Shirley Burset. He is the eldest of four brothers. Fortuño is of paternal Spanish descent including Catalan and Galician, his great-great grandfather Jaime José Fortuño y Ferrús was from Tarragona. Fortuño also has Corsican lineage from his maternal great-grandfather.
While in college, Luis Fortuño co-founded the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association (PRSSA) with Kenneth McClintock and presided over the organization from 1980 to 1981. During the 1980 gubernatorial election recount, PRSSA generated more than 1,500 absentee ballots at Fortuño’s direction for incumbent Governor Carlos Romero Barceló. The generated ballots were an important factor in Romero Barceló’s reelection; he won by a slim margin of approximately 3000 votes. Fortuño was also active in other pro-statehood youth organizations and in the Republican Party. He is married to attorney Lucé Vela-Gutierrez; they have triplets, María Luisa, Luis Roberto, and Guillermo (born 1991) who are now college students at mainland U.S. universities.
Fortuño entered public service in 1993 at the start of Governor Pedro Rosselló’s administration. He was first appointed executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company and president of Puerto Rico’s Hotel Development Corporation (HDC). In 1994, he became Puerto Rico’s first secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Economic Development and Commerce. Fortuño was tasked with the development and implementation of large-scale changes of Puerto Rico’s tax, labor, corporate and commercial codes.
Fortuño was named 1996 Man of the Year by Caribbean Business, 1995 Public Servant of the Year by the Marketing Industry and Distribution of Food and Beverage Products Association of Puerto Rico, 1994 Public Servant of the Year by the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, and 1994 Distinguished Executive by the Sales and Marketing Executives Association of Ponce and the Southern Region of Puerto Rico. He served on numerous boards of directors, including the Ana G. Méndez University System and the Puerto Rico Museum of Art. He is a member of the American Law Institute and the Urban Land Institute. In 1996, he served on the Platform Committee at the Republican National Convention, where he was successful in including the support for self-determination and eventual statehood for Puerto Rico in the party platform. Fortuño resigned his cabinet posts after Rosselló’s reelection in 1996 and returned to private law practice.
Following public service, Fortuño was a partner at the San Juan law firm, Correa, Collazo, Herrero, Jiménez & Fortuño, specializing in corporate finance and real estate law. Prior to joining Correa, Collazo, Herrero, Jiménez & Fortuño, he was a partner at McConnell Valdés LLC. He was briefly mentioned as a possible candidate for Governor of Puerto Rico in 1999 for the New Progressive Party after Governor Rosselló announced he would not seek a third term in the 2000 election cycle. Since 2013, Fortuño is a partner of Steptoe & Johnson LLP in the Washington, D.C., office.
2004 campaign for Resident Commissioner
Fortuño decided to seek the New Progressive Party’s nomination for the post of resident commissioner of Puerto Rico late in the primary season. He won the November 2003 primaries with 61.28% of votes and defeated former senator Miriam Ramirez de Ferrer (4.26% of votes), former Senate President Charlie Rodriguez (6.29% of votes), and former governor and resident commissioner Carlos Romero Barceló (25.78% of votes). After winning the primary, he picked up momentum within the Republican Party ranks in the U.S. when he received the endorsement of Ed Gillespie, head of the Republican National Committee. Fortuño was the running mate of former governor Rosselló, who returned for a third bid as the PNP’s candidate for governor.
In the elections of 2004, Fortuño was victorious (48.5% of votes) over his main rival candidate Roberto Prats (48% of votes) of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP). Fortuño’s running mate, Pedro Rosselló, lost his bid for the governor’s seat to then resident commissioner Aníbal Acevedo Vilá by less than 4,000 votes. This meant that Fortuño would be the resident commissioner under Governor Acevedo Vilá of the PDP. This was the first time in Puerto Rican history that the governor of Puerto Rico and the resident commissioner were not from the same political party. Fortuño became the first resident commissioner to caucus with the GOP since Puerto Rico gained commonwealth status; the three previous PNP resident commissioners had originally aligned themselves with the Democrats.
Luis Fortuño meets with mayors from across the island of Puerto Rico in his congressional office (2006)
Upon the commencement of the 109th Congress, Fortuño was elected by his colleagues to serve as vice-president of the House Republican freshman class. He served as vice-chair of the Congressional Hispanic Conference during the 109th Congress and as chair during the 110th Congress. Fortuño was co-chair of the Congressional Friends of Spain, part of the Hispanic Conference Caucus. House Resources Committee Ranking Member Don Young appointed him in January 2007 as the Republican minority’s ranking member in the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs for the 110th Congress. Fortuño cosponsored the Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2007, which would give Puerto Ricans the option to become a US state or sovereign state. In October, 2007, Fortuño filed legislation, along with Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) to assure the continued operation of the Arecibo Radiotelescope.
Fortuño was re-elected by the Republican Party of Puerto Rico‘s General Assembly to continue serving as National Committeeman, a position he has held since 2001. He won reelection as National Committeeman in the GOP convention held on 20 May 2007 in Yauco, Puerto Rico.
In 2007, Fortuño joined Representative José Serrano (D-NY) and 128 other co-sponsors in filing HR 900, the Puerto Rico Democracy Act, to establish a self-determination process leading to political status change for Puerto Rico. The bill was amended and approved in a voice vote by the House’s Committee on Resources on 23 October, a major victory for Fortuño. However, as other political status bills in the past, the measure never made it to the President for his signature.
A poll taken before Fortuño Burset announced his gubernatorial bid in February 2007 suggests he is the most well-liked public figure in the PNP. The poll, taken by Gaither International at the request of Caribbean Business newspaper, indicated that Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, Fortuño’s likely opponent, would fare badly in the general election. Another poll released in May 2007 and taken by Kaagan Research Associates, Inc. at the request of El Nuevo Día, a major circulation newspaper, showed Fortuño with a 46% to 25% advantage over incumbent Governor Acevedo Vilá. On 16 May 2007 poll also showed Fortuño winning a primary election against Pedro Rosselló 49% to 37%.
On 19 February 2007, Fortuño announced his candidacy for Governor of Puerto Rico for the 2008 general election. He faced former 2004 running mate and former governor Pedro Juan Rosselló González in an PNP primary on 9 March 2008 which he won by a 60% to 40% margin.
On 9 March 2008, Fortuño easily defeated Rosselló at the PNP primaries and became the new president of the PNP and its official candidate for governor. Fortuño won the candidacy by obtaining nearly 60% of primary votes. Fortuño’s running mate and now official candidate for resident commissioner, Pedro Pierluisi, also won his primary.
On 4 November 2008, Fortuño became the ninth governor-elect of Puerto Rico by popular election winning by over 220,000 votes, the largest victory margin in 44 years and giving the New Progressive Party its largest victory in history. Also he became the second governor to get more than a million votes, after Pedro Rosselló‘s reelection in 1996. Accompanied with his victory, the party gained control of the legislature by historic margins and the majority of mayoralties, and with it the power to name 3 Supreme Court judges that for the first time in history would give PNP appointees a majority on the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico. With this win, Fortuño would have the opportunity to name various fixed-term posts, including the comptroller, the ombudsman and the director of the Government Ethics Office.
Immediately after the 4 November 2008 general election, Governor-Elect Fortuño began the formation of an emerging administration. On 7 November, Fortuño held a caucus of incoming PNP legislators, who chose Thomas Rivera Schatz as the incoming Senate president in an uncontested election and Representative Jennifer González as the new House speaker, succeeding the incumbent House speaker, who also competed. On 9 November, he announced the appointment of outgoing Senate president Kenneth McClintock as the head of the Incoming Committee on Government Transition. On 11 November, he began announcing the members of his Cabinet and other administration officials, beginning with McClintock’s appointment as secretary of state, equivalent to a lieutenant governor.
Following tradition, the inaugural event was initially led by the outgoing secretary of state Fernando Bonilla and then by incoming secretary of state Kenneth McClintock. Among the thousands of attendees of the event were singer Marc Anthony and his then wife, actress and singer Jennifer Lopez, White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Janet Creighton and the head of Intergovernmental Affairs for President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, Nick Rathod. Foreign dignitaries included Dominican Republic president Leonel Fernández and the president of Dominica, Nicholas Liverpool. Following his inaugural address, Fortuño walked from the Capitol to La Fortaleza. In the evening, a free concert in Old San Juan and a state dinner hosted by the new Secretary of State were held.
Administration, Cabinet, and Supreme Court appointments 2009–present
Of these, Secretary of State McClintock, Fortuño’s first Attorney General, Sagardía, Police Superintendent José Figueroa Sancha and Corrections Secretary Molina were the first to have been confirmed and formally sworn in.
At the end of his four-year term, Fortuño had retained 5 of the 14 members of his original constitutional cabinet, the secretaries of state, transportation, economic development and commerce, natural resources, and sports and recreation.
Mitt Romney stated that he would repeal what he refers to as «Obamacare,» on «my first day if elected president of the United States.» Luis Fortuño’s position on President Obama’s initiative has been to side with his Republican counterparts. On 24 February 2010, he stated in an interview with the local press that Obama’s proposal would have «unfortunate results for Puerto Rico.»
A year later, Fortuño joined with other Republican governors, signing a letter that asked for the «full repeal of the Affordable Care Act.»
In a televised speech on 3 March 2009, 60 days after having been sworn in, Governor Fortuño announced his fiscal and economic pecovery plan which included reducing the government’s annual expenditures by more than $2 billion at the start of the next fiscal year in July 2009. Media speculation estimated that a reduction of such magnitude could require permanently laying off up to 30,000 government workers. On 1 May 2009, a mass of workers marched through the streets of San Juan in response to the governor’s plan, protesting the government’s preparation for impending layoffs. Most of the frustration of the Puerto Rican constituents was due to the then candidate Luis Fortuno swearing that he would not lay off a single employee yet in his 3 March speech he warned that the $3.2 billion deficit he encountered might require laying off over 30,000 government employees.
On 15 October 2009, thousands of Puerto Rican workers and supporters gathered for what organizers tried to pass as a «general strike» over government budget cuts. Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate exceeded 16.7 percent in June, 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Fortuño administration expected the layoffs to propel that rate to 17.1 percent (the unemployment rate for April 2010 was 17.2).
On 26 August 2010, teachers unions staged one day walkout to protest what they say is Fortuño’ plans to privatize employee pensions, a shortage of teachers and the deterioration of the school system. The walkout was the largest labor protest in public schools on the island since a 10-day strike in 2008 as teachers demanded improved wages and working conditions.
As a result of all the cost-cutting measures taken during his first two years in office, and the approval of Law 154 which imposes a temporary excise tax on overseas sales by major corporation over 6 years in a declining scale beginning at 6% which may be taken by affected corporation as a credit on their federal tax returns, on 31 January 2011, Fortuño signed Law 1 of 2011, the new Internal Revenue Code that provides, retroactive to 1 January 2010, tax relief including a 50% tax cut for individuals and 30% for businesses, beginning with a 7–14% tax cut for individuals and a 7% tax cut for businesses effective during tax year 2010.
Due to cost-containment and revenue generation measures, fiscal year 2009-10 ended with a $2 billion structural deficit, followed by a $1 billion structural deficit in 2010-11, $610 million in fiscal year 2011-12, $332.7 million in 2012-13, with a goal of achieving a structurally balanced budget by 1 July 2013.
Rumored potential candidacy for national office
Governor Fortuño was mentioned more than once as a long-shot potential candidate for nomination for president or vice president in 2012 and his frequent campaign trips to the mainland during the 2010 congressional races have been linked to potential national aspirations.
Fortuño was also mentioned by Chris Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax Media, as someone to look for in the future on the national political stage.George Will endorsed Fortuño’s support for statehood as a national Republican strategy.
In 26 June 2011 he announced in Bayamón that he would seek a second term as Governor of Puerto Rico. In interviews he said that he will not aspire to a national office in 2012. More recently, Republican consultant Roger Stone mentioned Fortuño as a potential vice presidential nominee to win Hispanic American votes in 2012. In 2012, his name has continued resonating for national office.
In January 2012, Fortuño endorsed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for president during an event in Miami, Florida, and on 5 April Romney spoke highly of Fortuño when asked if he had a list of potential vice presidential nominees, stating that Puerto Rico’s governor is «a solid conservative and a firm leader»… «and he certainly qualifies as one of the great leaders of our party». He was included in an occasional vice presidential «short list». In August 2012, Politico reported that Fortuño «is liked and trusted in the Romney campaign» and «Commerce or Interior are possibilities» for Fortuño in a potential Romney cabinet.
Obama names Fortuño to Council of Governors
President Barack Obama nominated Governor Fortuño to the Council of Governors, a bipartisan commission aimed at improving coordination of efforts between state and federal agencies to address matters of defense and national security.
Elected to leadership of the Council of State Governments
On 22 May 2010, Governor Fortuño was elected vice president of the Council of State Governments (CSG), the first Puerto Rican to hold a leadership position in that intergovernmental organization since his now–secretary of state, Kenneth McClintock, served as chairman in 1999. CSG represents the three branches of government of the 55 states and territories of the nation. Several Canadian provinces are international members of the organization, as well. On 22 October 2011 he was chosen president of CSG for 2012.
Center for Best Practices of the National Governors Association
Between 2010 and 2012, Fortuño served on the Board of Directors of the Center for Best Practices of the National Governors Association.
Chairman of the Southern Governors’ Association
On 21 August 2011, Governor Fortuño assumed the chairmanship of the Southern Governors’ Association and unveiled his new initiative, which served as the organization’s policy focus for the year, to create jobs and spur economies in the Southern region by increasing trade, investment and exports with Latin America.
The initiative, titled «Growth Beyond Our Borders,» focused on creating jobs and increasing exports from Southern states and territories by the end of 2012 by enabling private sector businesses and entrepreneurs to tap into dynamic and emerging Latin American markets, which represent 550 million prospective clients.
The association’s membership is composed of the governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia and West Virginia.
Commemoration of Quincentenary of the Governorship of Puerto Rico
In 2010, Fortuño created a Commission for the Celebration of the Quincentenary of the Governorship of Puerto Rico, a celebration that began on 12 October 2010 and will extend to 19 November 2011. As part of the celebration, at the tail-end of a Trade Mission to Spain, he led a celebration of the life of Puerto Rico’s first governor Juan Ponce de León in Santervás de Campos, near Valladolid on 21 January 2011. He also spoke that day at the Universidad de Valladolid.
On 19 August 2012, voters rejected two constitutional amendments proposed by the governor and submitted by two-thirds of the Legislature for a referendum. The first amendment would have reduced the size of the Senate from 27 to 17 members and of the House of Representatives from 51 to 39 members. While the governor’s main opponent, PDP gubernatorial candidate, Senator Alejandro García Padilla supported the amendments, most PDP voters did not follow his lead and contributed to the defeat of both amendments, which was also opposed by the Puerto Rican Independence Party and three minor parties.
On 15 October 2009, Calle 13 won the Premios MTV Latinoamérica for «Best Urban Artist». Pérez hosted the ceremony, and used this exposure to insult Puerto Rican governor Luis Fortuño and comment about a civilian general strike that was organized earlier that day, held to protest the firing of more than 25,000 public employees by Fortuño’s administration. Pérez generated much controversy after referring to Fortuño as an «hijo de la gran puta» The phrase is commonly translated as «son of a bitch»; in Spanish is an insult to the person itself, equating to «bad person»..
Luis Fortuno speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.
On 9 January 2013, Fortuño presented his resignation to the presidency of the New Progressive Party, and accepted the party directorate’s request that he serve as the acting president until 3 February, when Pierluisi was selected to succeed Fortuño.
Fortuño and former first lady Lucé Vela moved to Washington, D.C., in early 2013, where he is a partner with the Steptoe & Johnson law firm in its Corporate, Securities & Finance Group and the Government Affairs and Public Policy Group. He is also involved in Steptoe’s Latin American practice.
He is also a frequent speaker in forums related to business and conservative causes.
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