MKs prepare for long night of budget voting

Lapid’s budget expected to encounter resistance in coalition; if budget not approved by July 30, early election to be scheduled.

Shelly Yacimovich at the President's residence 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Shelly Yacimovich at the President's residence 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
MKs are gearing up for sleepless nights next week as the 2013-14 state budget heads for its first Knesset vote on Monday.
The budget and the Economic Arrangements Bill will be brought to a first reading in the plenum at 4 p.m. The opposition, along with some coalition members, is expected to voice its disapproval of the bills through the night.
The legislation is expected to pass the first vote, despite the hours of opposition speeches.
After that, the bills will be brought to the Knesset Finance Committee, where lawmakers will discuss and vote on each article, sometimes making significant changes, before they are brought to the plenum for their second and third (final) readings.
If the budget is not approved by July 30, an early national election will be scheduled.
Labor prepared a detailed document this week with all of its objections to the Economic Arrangements Bill, calling for the public to contribute comments and suggestions for changes.
Each Labor MK took on a different section of the bill, which has 83 articles on topics ranging from public libraries’ funding to rabbis’ salaries to agricultural tariffs, and is traditionally passed at the same time as the budget.
“This analysis is an additional and necessary step in our struggle against the budget.
We’ve already had some minor achievements, but most of our work is ahead of this,” opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) said.
According to Yacimovich, this year’s Economic Arrangements Bill is one of the most “difficult and baffling” ever submitted to the Knesset.
“The previous laws had some kind of internal logic, even if it was a destructive, conservative unequal logic,” she said. “This time, this law is a collection of proposals that gathered dust in the desk drawers of Finance Ministry Budget Division bureaucrats, as if someone cleaned out the ministry and threw every unused proposal in a box.”
Yacimovich explained that the Economic Arrangements Bill was an emergency measure invented in 1985 that has since turned into a tool for the government to easily change policies without having to pass a bill for each one.
“The bill destroys the ability to make decisions in a structured, thorough, organized and democratic way,” she said.
Earlier this week, Finance Minister Yair Lapid officially submitted the bills, presenting them to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and discussing them with the Knesset Finance Committee.
During the discussion, Lapid learned that the coalition would not give him an easy time on the budget either.
Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) told Lapid that “the committee under [his] authority will make changes to benefit the middle class and weak sectors, and distribute the burden in a more just manner on all levels of society.”
MK Gila Gamliel (Likud Beytenu), who coordinates the coalition’s dealings with the budget in the Finance Committee, listed several elements of the budget that will not make it through the committee: taxes on housing upgrades and housewives, the lowering of daycare subsidies and a blanket increase on income tax.
Gamliel and MK Orly Levy- Abecasis (Likud Beytenu) voted against raising VAT last month, and MK Miri Regev (Likud Beytenu) walked out rather than rebel against the coalition, but only after giving a plenum speech in which she said Lapid is “spitting in the face” of the middle class.
While a Likud source denied that the three female MKs are working together in an organized way to oppose the budget, he said they will continue to be vocal about their objections to elements that will harm the middle class and those with lower incomes.