Band countries are fighting over money – once more. It is about the third relief package and its financing. Of course, the prime ministers have nothing against good gifts for the citizens and companies, but please let the federal government pay for them.
Specifically, they bother on the one hand the loss of income associated with the adjustment of the income tax rate to the currency depreciation, on the other hand they fear higher costs as part of the 9-euro follow-up regulation. But that's not all: the states are also pushing for greater federal involvement in modernizing the judiciary, although this is actually their own task.
You can call it wishes, demands or even blackmail - after all, the countries are openly threatening to break the package Federal Council to stop. Hesse's Prime Minister Boris Rhein (CDU) spoke of contracts at the expense of third parties, "and that cannot take place". Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) rumbled: "In its current form, the relief package is by no means acceptable."
Relief package as leverage against the debt brake
Baden-Württemberg Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) warned unvarnished of a blockade in the Bundesrat. His colleague from Lower Saxony, Stephan Weil (SPD), who has to face a state election on October 9, wants to use the relief package as a lever to get rid of the restrictions of the debt brake.
The addressee of the whole thing is the Federal Minister of Finance Christian Lindner (FDP). According to his people's calculations, the various measures in the third relief package add up to 65 billion euros, of which around 19 billion euros would go to the federal states. In the opinion of the prime ministers, the FDP politician should see how he gets this part additionally lifted, which the federal states cannot or do not want to bear.
Lindner obviously does not want to heat up the confrontational mood at the moment. He's currently holding back. But a few days ago, in a guest article for this newspaper, he basically speared the increasing co-financing of state tasks by the federal government. "The financial policy imbalance between the levels is solidifying," he judged.
The financial scientist Thiess Büttner knows the budget situation of those involved like no other. Because the professor from Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg is Chairman of the independent Advisory Board that advises the Stability Council, a body tasked with overseeing the financial conduct of the federal and state governments. "The finances of the federal states have developed much more favorably than those of the federal government over the past few years," reports the economist.
According to figures from the Stability Council, even in the Corona year 2020, their deficit was just under 1 percent of gross domestic product. In the following year, they even generated a slight surplus, while the federal government had deficits of 2.6 percent and 4.0 percent in these years. This development is currently continuing. The federal government has significant reserves. However, they are fully planned in order to comply with the debt brake next year.
Lindner's party friend Christian Durr, who leads the parliamentary group, calls on the Prime Ministers to make their contribution against this background. "The allegations of some CDU politicians from the states irritate me," said the FDP politician of the FAZ "I would wish that the state governments not only make demands on the federal government, but also make their own proposals for co-financing." Straight out Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia he hears little that is constructive.