New Puerto Rico gov faces soaring crime, deficit

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico's new governor takes office Friday, inheriting an island government that is battling a recession, a soaring murder rate and a deficit of more than $1 billion.

Luis Fortuno, who defeated an incumbent tainted by federal corruption charges in November, is taking the oath of office at the U.S. Caribbean territory's Capitol. Expected guests included Dominican President Leonel Fernandez, actress Jennifer Lopez and reggaeton star Daddy Yankee.

Fortuno has promised to reduce the tax rate, create thousands of private-sector jobs and boost community policing on an island that reported more than 800 killings last year for the first since 1996.

But the economy will take center stage. His advisory committee has warned the territory is on such shaky ground that it might not have money to pay public employees in the next three months. In August, the government requested a $500 million credit line from the state-owned bank to pay 120,000 workers.

Fortuno, 48, belongs to the party that wants Puerto Rico to become a U.S. state. He has been serving as the island's nonvoting delegate to the U.S. Congress.

He ousted one-term Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila, who is awaiting trial for allegedly violating campaign finance laws.

**Associated Press**


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