Knesset passes 2019 budget
The passage of the budget brings to an end a stormy week in Israeli politics, in which the government almost fell, Globes reports.
The 2019 state budget, the Economic Arrangements Law, and accompanying ordinances, were passed by the Knesset at second and third readings in the early hours of this morning after a marathon sitting lasting 24 hours. After all proposed amendments had been defeated, the budget was passed at third reading buy a majority of 62 MKs in favor versus 54 against. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not attend the debate and did not participate in the voting.
The budget was passed after a stormy week in Israeli politics, during which the government almost fell because of disputes within the coalition on the Conscription Law, while Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon insisted that the budget should be passed before the Passover holiday, which begins in two weeks' time, or before the end of the current Knesset session.
The budget totals NIS 479.6 billion, 4.3% more than the 2018 budget and 24.9% more than the 2015 budget (data from the Knesset Research Center). In addition, spending of NIS 41.05 billion is permitted provided that revenue is found to cover it, and spending commitments will be allowed up to NIS 134.7 billion in 2019. Forecast economic growth for 2019 is 3.1%.
The Ministry of Defense budget for 2019 is NIS 63 billion; the Ministry of Education budget is NIS 60 billion; the Ministry of Health budget is NIS 38 billion. The budget for welfare and Holocaust survivors is NIS 13 billion, and allowances for the disabled are budgeted at NIS 2 billion.
According to Ministry of Finance figures, between 2014 and 2019 the education budget has grown by 38% (NIS 16.6 billion); the health budget has grown by 60% (NIS 14.1 billion); the budget for Holocaust survivors has grown by 41% (NIS 1.4 billion) and the defense budget has grown by 37% (NIS 15.4 billion).
Among the measures in the 2019 budget are the Family Net program; the national long-term nursing care program; switching between banks at the push of a button; lowering of prices of private surgical procedures; a shorter working week; shorter school vacations; a reform to end the dependence of sport on betting; restrictions on the use of cash; boosting the supply of housing; and encouragement of participation in the workforce through work grants.