USVI Congresswoman looks towards history on ways to rebuild

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D-USVI-At Large) has a plan to rebuild her Island territory from the ground up.

“It doesn’t just talk about rebuilding, it talks about disparity that’s existed before," she said.

Her bill models the hurricane recovery effort on that of the Marshall plan, when the U.S. pitched in to rebuild post-WWII Europe. Plaskett said her plan would focus federal funds on health care, education, and rebuilding infrastructure not just short-term fixes.

“These are things if they’re addressed and supported by the federal government will really be a foundation for us to jumpstart our own economy," Plaskett added.

But experts in Washington D.C. argue that unlike Europe, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands don’t have a strong record of using federal funds well and therefore taxpayers wouldn’t be able to bank on similar success.

“You can’t just keep permanently keep bailing out a broken institution you gotta fix the institution," Salim Furth a senior research fellow at George Mason University said.

Furth said the federal government has already committed a lot of money to the islands. A federal disaster relief bill signed just last month directed $90 billion to hurricane hit areas. At this point, he said locals need address their history with financial crises before they get any more outside money.

“What is holding the Puerto Rican economy is the same thing that was holding it back before the storm," he added.

Congress will consider Plaskett’s plan in the weeks and months ahead. As of right now the plan doesn’t have the support it needs to get through.

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