Dispute over slowed digital pact: sharp criticism of the federal states

Dispute over slowed digital pact: sharp criticism of the federal states

In the dispute between the federal government and the states over the future financing of projects such as debt digitization or housing construction, there is clear criticism of the minister presidents.

"This reveals a strange understanding of democracy," said eckhardt rehberg, budget policy spokesman for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, to the deutsche presse-agentur in berlin. The plans had been worked out and decided in the bundestag transparently. It must be ensured that the states also participate and do not misuse funds for other purposes, for example, for the expansion of daycare centers.

The 16 federal states reject a change in the basic law because they will in future always have to co-finance half of the projects supported by the federal government, such as social housing or the expansion of daycare centers. As this is a major package that requires a change in the basic law in the bundestag and bundesrat (representing the states), the digital pact is also on hold until further notice.

Although the federal government wants to cover 90 percent of the costs, this cannot come into effect without an agreement on the future financing shares. The countries want to discuss the increase in the. December call the mediation committee, which must find an agreement. Talk of hardened fronts in coalition circles.

The digital pact includes a billion-euro program for flat-covering instruction with tablets, computers and digital media at schools – the program is supposed to start at the beginning of 2019, now it could be easter or even later.

The FDP’s vice faction leader in the bundestag, katja suding, is calling for a willingness to compromise on the part of the minister presidents: "schools have been waiting for over two years for the long-announced digital pact," she told the deutsche presse agency. "I appeal to the states to agree to the change in the basic law", suding demanded.

Also the cdu housekeeper rehberg warned the lander to be stubborn. "Cofinancing was incorporated into the law on the recommendation of the federal audit office." Rehberg had insisted on 50:50 funding during deliberations in the bundestag. Co-financing is necessary so that the federal states do not cut back their funding and projects do not fizzle out. In addition, federal funds could not be used for other purposes.

"This is the only way to ensure that really additional daycare places and additional social housing are created."In many reports, the federal audit office had pointed out that some states had repeatedly not used federal funds for the intended purpose or had reduced their own state funds. 50:50 financing is intended to ensure that the countries are jointly responsible for the full financing and implementation of projects.

"Even the financially weak states are not faced with an impossible task from the federal government. These are financial aids for purely state tasks, such as education, daycare for children or housing construction."Rehberg also referred to the good financial situation of the states. "By the end of september this year, they have achieved a budget surplus of almost 20 billion euros." And in the coming years, the tax revenues of the lander were expected to develop better than those of the federal government.

German finance minister olaf scholz (SPD) is optimistic that a quick agreement can be reached – but many believe this is optimism for a specific purpose, since fundamental financing issues and federal-country relations are at stake. A 50:50 commitment could then, for example, also affect aid in the event of a flood disaster and overburden financially weak states like mecklenburg-vorpommern in particular.