Netanyahu: Defense cuts will finance free day care

"We will institute free compulsory education from the age of three in 2012," PM says at cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu at cabinet meeting 311 (photo credit: Emile Solomon / Pool / Haaretz)
Netanyahu at cabinet meeting 311
(photo credit: Emile Solomon / Pool / Haaretz)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday that in 2012 he plans to institute free, compulsory education for children from three years of age.
Speaking in the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that in a few days he will submit an economic proposal for 2012 that strikes a proper balance between "defense needs, economic needs, and social needs. This will include free compulsory education from the age of three."
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"We are of course doing this while keeping the budget framework, which we will not break. We will keep the budget, while taking care of education and social needs as we see them. We will also do what is necessary for defense, maybe less money than the defense establishment wants, but enough in my opinion to keep Israel safe from its enemies," Netanyahu said.
The prime minister also listed some of the Trajtenberg Committee recommendations that came into effect in 2012, including NIS 430 (per child) a month for working fathers with children up to the age of 3, and NIS 215 (per child) a month for working mothers with children up to the age of 5.
Earlier, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told Army Radio that "2011 was a very good year for the Israeli economy in many ways. Growth was a high 4.8 percent, the unemployment rate fell to 5%, bucking the global trend, to its lowest level in decades. We must fight to maintain strict budget discipline to maintain these achievements." He added that there were still worries that unemployment would rise in 2012, which was why he was insisting on budget discipline.
Asked about the tax and price hikes that came into effect today, even as the prime minister and ministers received pay hikes of NIS 1,000 a month each, Steinitz said, "Ministers' salaries are updated automatically, I don’t know exactly by how much, I do not deal with this personally."
Steinitz also emphasized the income tax cuts, the NIS 300 monthly earned income tax credit for working mothers, and the government's plans to move forward on free education for day care, even as he reiterated that breaking fiscal discipline was liable to cause severe harm to the economy.