Baden-Württemberg: Kretschmann: Climate protection and education have priority in the budget

Kretschmann: Climate protection and education have priority in the budget

It’s a déja vu: right from the start, green and black put their coalition agreement under “financing reservation” and hoped for bigger leaps to Corona. Then came the Ukraine war. The consequences of this will probably force the coalition to make painful compromises.

Stuttgart (dpa / lsw) – The leaders of the green-black coalition have prepared the country for economically worse times and warned against too high expectations of the next double budget. “If you don’t have enough money, you have to prioritize,” said Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) on Tuesday in Stuttgart. For him, the focus is on the energy transition and climate protection as well as education. He thinks it’s right that Finance Minister Danyal Bayaz (Greens) is “putting on the brakes a bit now.” Bayaz warned in the cabinet that the May tax estimate, which will be prepared this week, will not be “very reliable” because the consequences of the Ukraine war have not yet been sufficiently taken into account. Added to this is the high rate of inflation.

It is clear that you also have to be able to pay for things that you consider important. If the ministers don’t do it themselves, the finance minister for the 2023/24 budget will have to do it for them, said Kretschmann. The coalition agreement has been subject to funding restrictions from the start due to large gaps caused by Corona. However, the forthcoming double budget is the central budget for the realization of the projects in this legislative period. That should result in tough distribution battles within the coalition.

Bayaz had told the “Stuttgarter Zeitung” and “Stuttgarter Nachrichten” (Tuesday): “We are objectively becoming poorer due to low growth and high inflation. I expect that this situation will continue to shape the state’s economy beyond this year.” The Green politician went on to say: “This means that our country has less financial resources overall and we have less leeway for additional spending.” There is no need for a spare budget, but “a focused budget with clear priorities”.

Kretschmann said it was important to become “more sovereign” in energy production and to push ahead with the expansion of wind power. “We have to set more pace there.” In school politics, the challenge is to increase the educational success of the “lower third” of the students in order to remedy the shortage of skilled workers.

Bayaz fears that the May tax estimate for the federal and state governments will be too positive. “This positive tax estimate has shaky foundations,” he told the newspapers. The consequences of the war, high inflation and burdens on the global economy such as the pandemic and disrupted supply chains would impact the economy and tax revenue over the course of the year.

Bayaz sees further burdens that the country has to deal with. The federal states would have to co-finance the federal relief packages worth billions. In addition, there are growing costs for the maintenance and accommodation of Ukrainian refugees and the structural deficit from the medium-term financial planning of 5.4 billion euros for the double budget 2023/2024 alone. “You have to plug that first – the surplus is not enough,” said Bayaz.

Recently, the faction leaders Andreas Schwarz (Greens) and Manuel Hagel (CDU) had warned against too high expectations of the budget. “I advise clear restraint in the budget deliberations,” said Schwarz. “There will be tough discussions.” Hagel warned: “We’re not making a wish now.” Anyone who wants one euro more from the ministers at the budget deliberations must have the ambition to say where two euros can be saved. “Whoever says what he wants must also say what can go.”

Transport Minister Winfried Hermann (Greens) had said that this principle did not work in his experience. “That would succeed if an old task were to be eliminated.” As a rule, however, new tasks are constantly being added to the old ones. The Green wants to fight for his goals in the expensive turnaround in traffic, as he explained on Tuesday. In order to accelerate the switch from cars to buses and trains, you have to invest significantly more in infrastructure and vehicles.

The SPD finance expert Nicolas Fink cannot understand Bayaz’s pessimism. “First of all, it’s a reason to be happy when the country’s tax estimate is positive,” said Fink. “But if the state government is already announcing that they want to hesitate and procrastinate, that does not do justice to the current need for action in the state.” For the FDP, Stephen Brauer said the heads of the coalition were desperately trying to get their people to save. “The tax estimate is a kind of pseudo-giant, because at the end of the year the scope would be much smaller. It says a lot about the state of the government if you have to make it public.”