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Officials: Puerto Rico gov seeks to close schools, agencies

FILE - This May 7, 2015 file photo shows a hallway in the closed Francisco Oller Elementary School in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico's governor is seeking to close 95 more schools and consolidate 20 public agencies as part of a proposed budget cuts, according to gubernatorial chief of staff Victor Suarez on Tuesday, May 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo, File)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s governor is seeking to close 95 schools and consolidate 20 public agencies as part of a proposed budget that calls for $600 million in cuts, officials said Tuesday.

Few other details were released after Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla met privately on Tuesday with officials of Puerto Rico’s nearly 80 public agencies to talk about a proposed $9.8 billion budget that he expects to make public on Wednesday.

Gubernatorial chief of staff Victor Suarez said after the meeting that all agencies will see cuts in their budgets except police, agriculture and public universities. He did not release other details about the proposed budget.

“We have to be creative so we can maintain efficiency amid the fiscal austerity we’re facing,” he said.

Governors have traditionally unveiled the proposed budget during a televised address, but Garcia is not expected to do so this year, officials said.

Garcia clashed recently with legislators amid a push to approve a new tax to help generate revenue for an island struggling with $72 billion in public debt and an 11.8 percent unemployment rate. On Monday, he submitted a new proposal that calls for increasing the island’s sales tax from 7 percent to 11.5 percent. Legislators have not yet debated the bill.

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