Solodkin: Don't make poor pay for cost of war

Independent-minded MK vows to vote against 2007 budget if welfare cutbacks are approved.

MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima) offered budgetary advice to Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson in a letter sent Monday in which she listed numerous sources of funding that would make further cuts in welfare subsidies and education unnecessary. "After cutting some NIS 2 billion from the budget, thereby hurting almost every government ministry," Solodkin said, the Finance Ministry should try "a different way of thinking about increasing state revenue." Her recommendations were specific: an added graduated income tax applied to incomes above the national standard; a 10 percent tax for inheritances valued at more than NIS 10 million; raising the capital gains tax to 20%; increasing the Value-Added Tax on expensive luxury goods; and freezing the salaries of senior government officials, including MKs, for two years. "Unfortunately, the Finance Ministry has chosen the path of welfare cutbacks," she lamented, and said her suggestions were better "both from an economic and a social perspective" and would allow the government "to spread the responsibility for financing the war in the North in a more equal manner." Solodkin also told The Jerusalem Post that implementing her suggestions would allow the Finance Ministry to stop cutting the already drastically under-funded educational system while maintaining a balanced budget. "If the elderly pensions, the child or single-mother subsidies or the released soldier grants are cut," she warned, "I won't be able to support the 2007 state budget in the Knesset plenum."