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  • In April 2015, Jeb Bush, visited Puerto Rico and reiterated his support for the island’s

  • statehood. But not everyone is pushing for Puerto Rico to become the 51st star on the

  • U.S. flag. So should Puerto Rico become a state?

  • Well, Puerto Rico has been under U.S. control since the Spanish-American War in 1898. Puerto

  • Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship and the ability to serve in the military. However,

  • those who live on the island are unable to vote in presidential elections and do not

  • pay federal taxes. However, the territory has its own government that is subject to

  • the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the U.S.. Currently, Puerto Rico has a single non-voting

  • delegate in Congress.

  • So, what would happen if Congress voted to approve Puerto Rico’s statehood? First of

  • all, they would have more power in the U.S. government, gaining two seats in the Senate

  • and five in the House of Representatives. The island already benefits from billion of

  • dollars a year in federal funds. But if it were to become a state, the U.S. would start

  • collecting federal income and corporate taxes. A government report estimated that, if Puerto

  • Rico had been a state in 2009, the U.S. would have received as much as $9 billion in income

  • taxes.  

  • For many statehood critics, Puerto Rico’s financial baggage is a dealbreaker. The island

  • is $73 billion in debt. When stacked up against the rest of the states, Puerto Rico’s per-capita

  • GDP is comparable to Mississippi’s, which is the lowest in the country. Additionally,

  • Puerto Rico suffers from an unemployment rate about double that of the United States. And

  • more than one-third of the 3.6 million people on the island are reportedly on food stamps.

  • But supporters of statehood believe more federal support will help lift the island out of poverty.

  • So, what do Puerto Ricans want? In 2012, more than half of the population rejected the current

  • commonwealth status. When asked a second question, 61% of voters preferred statehood.

  • When it comes down to it, the push for statehood is about money. Right now, the federal government

  • spends more than $20 billion per year to support Puerto Rico’s commonwealth status. Statehood

  • opens the door for potential economic gains through federal taxation. However, some experts

  • believe that Puerto Rico’s struggling economy and growing poverty might be too much for

  • the federal government to take on.  

  • Sometimes, State and Federal governments can disagree, and it even comes down to the deployment

  • of military forces. If you want to learn about how this can happen, check out our video here.

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In April 2015, Jeb Bush, visited Puerto Rico and reiterated his support for the island’s

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