Following a marathon debate, and after all the reservations had been rejected, the Knesset plenum overnight Wednesday passed the 2019 State Budget and the accompanying Economic Arrangements Law in their second and third readings.
The Arrangements Law is a government-sponsored bill presented to the Knesset each year alongside the State Budget Law, incorporating government bills and legislative amendments that are needed in order for the government to fulfill its economic policy.
The 2019 budget passed its third and final reading by a vote of 62 to 54.
The budget for next year will stand at 479.6 billion shekels ($140 billion), an increase of 4.3% compared to the 2018 budget, and an increase of 24.9% compared to the 2015 budget. The projected growth for 2019 will be 3.1%.
“This is the most social-welfare minded budget in the state’s history, which reflects our social values and our national priorities,” said Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) before the votes. The budget, he said, “projects to the entire world that the Israeli economy is one of the most stable and strongest economies in the world.”
“This budget belongs to everyone, and every person who lives in the State of Israel will benefit from it,” Minister Kahlon stated. “It does not belong only to those who were born with money; it does not belong to those who are more observant or less observant; to those who [have lived in Israel a long time] or to new immigrants; it does not belong to the coalition or to the opposition; it belongs to every citizen of the State of Israel.”
Opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog (Zionist Camp) said passing the 2019 budget in March of 2018 “shows a lack of seriousness and perhaps a lack of faith in the government itself.”
“It all stems from a political whim,” he suggested. “Anyone who has been a member of any government knows how ridiculous it is.”
Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said, “This is the first budget I can remember that does not include any cuts – a budget that ultimately contains very positive things. This budget greatly increases spending on healthcare. It raises spending on education. It raises defense spending. It raises spending on welfare. It increases spending on an unprecedented scale – while lowering taxes.”