North Rhine-Westphalia: Budget policy with little room for manoeuvre

EAt the end of June, the CDU and the Greens formed for the first time North Rhine-Westphalia a government. Together they decided to invest in the goal of making the most populous federal state more socially just, ecological, digital and economically stronger. After barely two months, it is entirely unclear how this will succeed.

Because of the consequential costs of the energy price crisis, the co-financing of the third relief package planned by the federal government and because of the expected economic downturn, the new Finance Minister Marcus Optendrenk (CDU) the “leeway to implement new things that we thought was important” as “very low to zero”.

Together with the finance ministers of the other countries, Optendrenk wants the federal government to take on a larger share of the relief package than planned. According to calculations from Optendrenk's house, according to the current plans of the federal government, there would be additional costs of three billion euros in NRW alone in the coming year. In view of the mandatory compliance with the debt brake, this cannot be done without drastic savings.

State Court of Auditors calls for a fresh start in budgetary policy

However, the precarious budget situation is also partly homemade. The fact that North Rhine-Westphalia has not been able to reduce its very high level of debt, at least to some extent, despite the high level of tax revenue and low interest payments it has been paying for for years, is now taking its revenge. Brigitte Mandt, President of the State Audit Office (LRH), therefore sounded the alarm just last week: "Now it is finally time to start a fundamental new beginning in budgetary policy."

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